Skip to main content

Full text of "First love.."

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 







Digitized b^ 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 










Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

SI his 

Copyright. 1904,.b]r 
Cbarus ScKjRdat'3 Sons 

; i 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 




Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


JSaeh Umo, $1.95 






vntam soil 









Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


{ Digitized by Google 

jtized by Google 








THE DOG 828 

I ■ :, 383 • 

^ji Digitized by LiOOgle 

Digitized by VjOOj&lC 



TH!E guests had long since departed. The 
clock had struck half -past twelve. There 
remained in the room onl y the ^ ost. S ergyei Niko - 
Uevitdi^and Vladimir Petr6vitch. ^ 

Thehost rang and ordered the remains of the 
supper to be removed.—" So then, the matter is 
settled,"— he said, ensconcing himself more 
deeply in his arm-chair, and lighting a cigar:— 
" each of us is to narrate the history of his first 
love. ' T is your turn. Sergvei NikoMevitd h/^ 

Sergyei Nikolaevitch, a rather corpulent man, 
with a plump, fair-skinned face, first looked at the 
host, then raised his eyes to the ceiling. — " I had 
no first love,"— he began at last:—" I began 
straight off with the second." 

" How was that? " 

" Very simply. I was eighteen years of age 
when, for the first time, I dangled after a very 
charming young lady ; but I courted her as though 
it were no new thing to me: exactly as I courted 
others afterward. To tell the truth, I fell in love, 
for the first and last time, at the age of six, with 
my nurse ;— but that is a very long time ago. The 
(Retails of our relations have been erased from my 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


memory; but even if I remembered them, wh 
would be interested in them? " 

"Then what are we to do? "—began the hosr 
— " There was nothing very startling about m^ 
jSrst love either; I never fell in love with any on 
before Anna Ivanovna, now my wife; and every 
thing ran as though on oil with us; our father 
made up the match, we very promptly fell in love 
with each other, and entered the bonds of matri- 
mony without delay. My story can be told in two 
words. I must confess, gentlemen, that in rais- 
ing the question of first love, I set my hopes on 
you, I will not say old, but yet no longer young 
bachelors. Will not you divert us with some- 
thing, Vladimir Petrovitch? " 

" My first love belongs, as a matter of fact, not 
altogether to the ordinary category," — replied, 
with a slight hesitation, Vladimir Petrovitch, a 
man of forty, whose black hair was sprinkled with 

"Ah I "—said the host and Sergyei Nikolae 
vitch in one breath.—" So much the better. . . 
TeU us." 

" As you like . • . . or no: I will not narrate 
I am no great hand at telling a story; it turns oul 
dry and short, or long-drawn-out and artificial 
But if you will permit me, I will write down al 
that I remember in a note^book, and will read ii 
aloud to you." 

At first the friends would not consent, bu 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Vladimir Petrovitch insisted on having his own 
way. A fortnight later they came together 
again, and Vladimir Sergyeitch kept his promise. 
This is what his note-book contained. 

I WAS sixteen years old at the time. The affair 
took place in the summer of 1833. 

I was living in Moscow, in my parents' house. 
They had hired a villa near the Kaluga barrier, 
opposite the Neskutchny Park.^ — I was prepar- 
ing for the university, but was working very little 
and was not in a hurry. 

No one restricted my freedom. I had done 
whatever I pleased ever since I had parted with 
my last French governor, who was utterly unable 
to reconcile himself to the thought that he had 
fallen " like a bomb " (comme une bomhe) into 
Kussia, and with a stubborn expression on his 
face, wallowed in bed for whole days at a time. 
My father treated me in an indifferently-affec- 
tionate way; my mother paid hardly any atten- 
tion to me, although she had no children except 
me: other cares engrossed her. My father, still a 
young man and very handsome, had married her 

^ The finest of the public parks in Moscow, situated near the fa- 
mous Sparrow Hills, is called " Neskdtchny "— " Not Tiresome," gen- 
erally rendered ** Sans Souci." It contains an imperial residence, 
the Alexander Palace, used as an official summer home by the Gov- 
eitor-General of Moscow.— Tbanslatoe. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


from calculation; she was ten years older than 1 
My mother led a melancholy life: she was ino 
santly in a state of agitation, jealousy, and wra 
—but not in the presence of my father; she y> 
very much afraid of him, and he maintained 
stern, cold, and distant manner. . . I have ne\ . 
seen a man more exquisitely calm, self -confide] 
and self -controlled. 

I shall never forget the first weeks I spent 
the villa. The weather was magnificent; we h 
left town the ninth of May, on St. Nicholas's de 
I rambled,— sometimes in the garden of our vil 
sometimes in Neskiitchny Park, sometimes I. 
yond the city barriers; I took with me some bo 
or other,— a course of Kaidanoff,— but rare; 
opened it, and chiefly recited aloud poems, 
which I knew a great many by heart. The blor 
was fermenting in me, and my heart was achir 
—so sweetly and absurdly; I was always waitii 
for something, shrinking at something, and wo 
dering at everything, and was all ready for aji 
thing at a moment's notice. My fancy was I 
ginning to play, and hovered swiftly ever arou] 
the selfsame image, as martins hover round 
belfry at sunset. But even athwart my tea 
and athwart the melancholy, inspired now by 
melodious verse, now by the beauty of the eve 
ing, there peered forth, like grass in springtin/ 
the joyous sensation of young, bubbling life. 

I had a saddle-horse; I was in the habit of s^( 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



dling it myself, and when I rode off alone as far 
as possible, in some direction, laimching out at a 
gallop and fancying myself a knight at a tourney 
—how blithely the wind whistled in my ears 1— Or, 
turning my face skyward, I welcomed its beam- 
ing light and azure into my open soul. 

I remember, at that time, the image of woman, 
the phantom of woman's love, almost never en- 
tered my mind in clearly-defined outlines; but in" 
everything I thought, in everything I felt, there 
lay hidden the half -conscious, shamefaced pre- 
sentiment of something new, inexpressibly sweet, 
feminine . .. ^. . , 

This presentimentr^his expectation permeated 
my whole T)eing; I breathed it, it coursed through 
my veins in every drop of blood .... it was 
fated to be speedily realised. 

Our villa consisted of a wooden manor-house 
with columns, and two tiny outlying wings; in the 
wing to the left a tiny factory of cheap wall- 
papers was installed. . . . More than once I 
went thither to watch how half a score of gaunt, 
dishevelled young fellows in dirty smocks and 
with tipsy faces were incessantly galloping about 
at the wooden levers which jammed down the 
square blocks of the press, and in that manner, by 
the weight of their puny bodies, printed the mot- 
ley-hued patterns of the wall-papers. The wing 
on the right stood empty and was for rent. One 
day — three weeks after the ninth of May— the 
, 7 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


shutters on the windows of this wing were opene 
and women's faces made their appearance 
them; some family or other had moved into it. 
remember how, that same day at dinner, r 
mother inquired of the butler who our new neig 
bburs were, and on hearing the name of Princt 
Zasyekin, said at first, not without some respec 
— " Ah! a Princess " . . • • and then she added: 
" She must be some poor person! " 

" They came in three hired carriages, ma'an 
—remarked the butler, as he respectfully pi 
sented a dish. " They have no carriage of th< 
own, ma'am, and their furniture is of the ve 
plainest sort." 

" Yes,"— returned my mother, — " and nev< 
theless, it is better so." 

My father shot a cold glance at her; she su 
sided into silence. 

As a matter of fact. Princess Zasyekin coul 
not be a wealthy woman: the wing she had hirt 
was so old and tiny and low-roofed that peop; 
in the least well-to-do would not have been wil 
ing to inhabit it.— However, I let this go in at or 
ear and out at the other. The princely title ha 
little effect on me: I had recently been readin 
Schiller's " The Brigands." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


i II 

j HAD a habit of prowling about our garden every 

1 ening, gun in hand, and standing guard against 
J e crows. — I had long cherished a hatred for 
[ r ose wary, rapacious and crafty birds* On the 

ty of which I have been speaking, I went into 

' e garden as usual, and, after having fruitlessly 

, ade the round of all the alleys (the crows recog- 

I sed me from afar, and merely cawed spasmodi- 

Jly at a distance) , I accidentally approached the 

' )w fence which separated our territory from the 

f f arrow strip of garden extending behind the 

ght-hand wing and appertaining to it. I was 

talking along with drooping head. Suddenly I 

. eard voices: I glanced over the fence— and was 

etrified A strange spectacle presented 

self to me. 

A few paces distant from me, on a grass-plot 
etween green raspberry-bushes, stood a tall, 
raceful y#ung girl, in a striped, pink frock and 
^ith a white kerchief on her head; around her 
tressed four young men, and she was tapping ^ 
hem in txun on the brow with those small grey 
lowers, the name of which I do not know, but 
«rhich are familiar to children ; these little flowers 
brm tiny sacs, and burst with a pop when they 
ire struck against anything hard. The young 
nen offered their foreheads^ to her so willingly, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


and in the girl's movements (I saw her form in i 
profile) there was something so bewitching, ca- ^ 
ressing, mocking, and charming, that I almost 
cried aloud in wonder and pleasure ; and I believe 
I would have given everything in the world if ^ 
those lovely little fingers had only consented to 
tap me on the brow. My gun slid down on the 
grass, I forgot everything, I devoured with my 
eyes that slender waist, and the neck and the beau- 
tiful arms, and the slightly rufiled fair hair, the 
intelligent eyes and those lashes, and the delicate 
cheek beneath them. . . • 

"Young man, hey there, young manl''— 
suddenly spoke up a voice near me:— "Is it 
permissible to stare like that at strange young 

I trembled all over, I was stupefied Be- 
side me, on the other side of the fence, stood a man 
with closely-clipped black hair, gazing ironically 
at me. At that same moment, the young girl 
turned toward me. ... I beheld huge grey eyes 
in a mobile, animated face— and this whole face 
suddenly began to quiver, and to laugh, and the 
white teeth gleamed from it, the brows elevated 
themselves in an amusing way. ... I flushed, 
picked up my gun from the ground, and, pursued 
) by ringing but not malicious laughter, I ran to 
my own room, flung myself on the bed, and cov- 
ered my face with my hands. My heart was 
fairly leaping within me ; I felt very much 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Ikhamed and very merry: I experienced an un- 
^^cedented emotion. 
w^ If ter I had rested awhile, I brushed my hair, 
"^"e itiyself neat and went down-stairs to tea. 
^ image of the yoimg girl floated in front of 
!e; my heart had ceased to leap, but ached in an 
'igreeable sort of way. 

What ails thee? "—my father suddenly asked 
me:—" hast thou killed a crow? " 

I was on the point of telling him all, but re- 
frained and only smiled to myself. As I wal pre- 
paring for bed, I whirled round thrice on one 
oot, I know not why, pomaded my hair, got into 
3ed and slept all night like a dead man. Toward 
noming I awoke for a moment, raised my head, 
BLSt a glance of rapture around me— and fell i 
isleep again. 


' How am I to get acquainted with them? " was 
ny first thought, as soon a^i I awoke in the morn- 
ing. I went out into the garden before tea, but 
did not approach too close to the fence, and saw 
10 one. After tea I walked several times up and 
ftown the street in front of the villa, and cast a 
distant glance at the windows. ... I thought I 
descried her face behind the ciu1;ains, and re- 
dtreated with all possible despatch. " But I must 
■get acquainted," — I thought, as I walked with ir- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



jandy stretcj, 
litchny P/^ 

tion." Ij^^ ^ 

regular strides up and down the sandy 
which extends in front of the Neskiitchny 
. . . . " but how? that is the questi 
called the most trifling incidents of the meer" l.,. 
on the previous evening; for some reason, Up |je 
manner of laughing at me presented itself to k^., 
with particular clearness. . . . But while I was 
fretting thus and constructing various plans. Fate 
jwas.jlreadyjgroviding f orjne^^ 

During my absence, my mother had received a 
letter from her new neighbour on grey paper 
sealed with brown wax, such as is used only on 
postal notices, and on the corks of cheap wine 
In this letter, written in illiterate language, anc 
with a slovenly chirography, the Princess re- 
quested my mother to grant her her protection: 
my mother, according to the Princess's words, was 
well acquainted with the prominent people or 
whom the fortune of herselfand her children de- 
pended, as she had some extremely important 
law-suits: "I apeal tyou,"— she wrote,— "as a 
knoble woman to a knoble woman, and moarover^ 
it is agriable to me to makeus of this oportunity." 
In conclusion, she asked permission of my mother 
to call upon her. I f oimd my mother in an un- 
pleasant frame of mind: my father was not am 
home, and she had no one with whom to take^ 
counsel. It was impossible not to reply to a 
" knoble woman," and to a Princess into the bar 
gain; but how to reply perplexed my mother. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


^£l| seemed to her ill-judged to write a note 
fi French, and my mother was not strong in Rus- 
ijan orthography herself —and was aware of the 
llliet— and did not wish to compromise herself, 
le'he was delighted at my arrival, and immediately 
irdered me to go to the Princess and explain to 
er verbally that my mother was always ready, 
) the extent of her ability, to be of service to Her 
Ladiance,* and begged that she would call upon 
er about one o'clock. 
This imexpec^edly swift fulfilment of my se- 
^^\ ret wishes both delighted and frightened me; but 
^^ j did not betray the emotion which held posses- 
nc ion of me, and preliminarily betook myself to 
ny room for the purpose of donning a new neck- 
i;loth and coat; at home I went about in a round- 
, acket and turn-over collars, although I detested 
I hem greatly, 
^f IV 








N the cramped and dirty anteroom of the wing, 
vhich I entered with an involuntary trembling of 
ny whole body, I was received by a grey-haired 
)ld serving-man with a face the hue of dark cop- 
)er, pig-like, surly little eyes, and such deep wrin- 
^^ des on his forehead as I had never seen before 
n my life. He was carrying on a platter the 



^ Princes, princesses, counts, and countesses have the title of Siydr 
eUtvo (siydm— to shine, to be radiant); generally translated "Illus- 
nous Highness" oi: "Serenity."— Translator. 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


gnawed spinal bone of a herring, and, pushing to 
with his foot the door which led into the adjoining 
room, he said abruptly:—" What do you want? " 

" Is Princess Zasyekin at home? " — I inquired. 

"Vonifaty!"— screamed a quavering female 
voice on the other side of the door. 

The servant silently turned his back on me, 
thereby displaying the badly-worn rear of his 
livery with its solitary, rusted, armouried button, 
and went away, leaving the platter on the floor. 

" Hast thou been to the police-station? "—went 
on that same feminine voice. The servant mut- 
tered something in reply.—" Hey? .... Some 
one has come?"— was the next thing audible. 
. . . • " The young gentleman from next door? 
—Well, ask him in." 

" Please come into the drawing-room, sir,"— 
said the servant, making his appearance again 
before me, and picking up the platter from the 
floor. I adjusted my attire and entered the 
" drawing-room." 

I foimd myself in a tiny and not altogether 
clean room, with shabby furniture which seemed 
to have been hastily set in place. At the window, 
in an easy-chair with a broken arm, sat a woman 
of fifty, with uncovered hair ^ and plain-featured, 
clad in an old green gown, and with a variegated 

^The custom still prevails in Russia, to a great extent, for all 
elderly women to wear caps. In the peasant class it is considered as 
extremely indecorous to go ** simple-haired/' as the expression runs. 
— Teanslatcb. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC ( 


worsted kerchief round her neck. Her small 
black eyes fairly bored into me. 

I went up to her and made my bow. 

" I have the honour of speaking to Princess 
Zasyekin? " 

" I am Princess Zasyekin: and you are the son 

" Yes, madam. I have come to you with a mes- 
sage from my mother." 

"Pray be seated. Vonifaty! where are my 
keys? Hast thou seen them? " 

I communicated to Madame Zasyekin my mo- 
ther's answer to her note. She listened to me, 
tapping the window-pane with her thick, red 
fingers, and when I had finished she riveted her 
eyes on me once more. 

" Very good; I shall certainly go,"— said she at 
last.—" But how young you are still! How old 
are you, allow me to ask? " 

" Sixteen,"— I replied with involuntary hesita- 

The Princess pulled out of her pocket some 
dirty, written documents, raised them up to her 
very nose and began to sort them over. 

" 'T is a good age,"— she suddenly articulated, 
turning and fidgeting in her chair. — " And please 
do not stand on ceremony. We are plain folks." 

" Too plain,"— I thought, with involuntary 
disgust taking in with a glance the whole of her 
homely figm-e. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


At that moment, the other door of the drawing- 
room was swiftly thrown wide open, and on the 
threshold appeared the young girl whom I had 
seen in the garden the evening before. She 
raised her hand and a smile flitted across her face, 

" And here is my daughter,"— said the Prin- 
cess, pointing at her with her elbow.— " Zino- 
tchka, the son of our neighbour, Mr. B— . What 
is your name, permit me to inquire? " 

" Vladimir,"— I replied, rising and lisping with 

" And your patronymic? " 

" Petrovitch." 

" Yesl I once had an acquaintance, a chief of 
police, whose name was Vladimir Petrovitch also. 
Vonifaty! don't hunt for the keys; the keys are 
in my pocket." 

The yoimg girl continued to gaze at me with 
the same smile as before, slightly puckering up 
her eyes and bending her head a little on one side. 

" I have already seen M'sieu Voldemar,"— she' 
began. (The silvery tone of her voice coursed 
through me like a sweet chill.) — " Will you per- 
mit me to call you so? " 

" Pray do, madam,"— I lisped. ' 

"Where was that?"— asked the Princess. 

The young Princess did not answer her mother. 

" Are you busy now? "—she said, without tak- 
ing her eyes off me. 

" Not in the least, madam." 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Then will you help me to wind some wool? 
Come hither, to me/' 

She nodded her head at me and left the draw- 
ing-room. I followed her. 

In the room which we entered the furniture was 
a little better and was arranged with great taste. 
—But at that moment I was almost imable to no- 
tice anything; I moved as though in a dream and 
felt a sort of intense sensation of well-being verg- 
ing on stupidity throughout my frame. 

The yoimg Princess sat down, produced a knot 
of red wool, and pointing me to a chair opposite 
her, she carefully imbound the skein and placed 
it oh my hands. She did all this in silence, with 
a sort of diverting deliberation, and with the same 
^;^?:::^ riffia5randjc ^^ on her slightly parted 

lips. She began to wind the wool upon a card 
doubled together, and suddenly illumined me with 
such a clear, swift glance, that I involimtarily 
dropped my eyes. When her eyes, which were 
* generally half closed, opened to their full extent 
her face underwent a complete change ; it was as 
though light had inundated it. 

" What did you think of me yesterday, M'sieu 
Voldemarf — she asked, after a brief pause.— 
" You certainly must have condemned me? " 

" I . . . . Princess .... I thought nothing 
.... how can I "I replied, in confu- 

" Listen,'"— she returned.-" You do not know 


i Digitized by Google 


; me yet; I want people always to speak the truth 
to me. You are sixteen, I heard, and I am 
twenty-one; you see that I am a great deal older 
i than you, and therefore you must always speak 
the truth to me . . . and obey me,"— she added. 
— " Look at me; why don't you look at me? " 

I became still more confused; but I raised my 
eyes to hers, nevertheless. She smiled, only not 
in her former manner, but with a different, an 
approving smile.—" Look at me,"— she said, ca- 
ressingly lowering her voice:—" I don't like that. 
. . . Your face pleases me ; I foresee that we shall 
be friends. And do you like me? "—she added 

" Princess . ..." I was beginning. . . . 

" In the first place, call me Zinaida Alexan- 
drovna; and in the second place,— what sort of a 
habit is it for children "— (she corrected herself) 
— " for young men— not to say straight out what 
they feel? You do like me, don't you? " 

Although it was very pleasant to me to have 
her talk so frankly to me, still I was somewhat 
nettled. I wanted to show her that she was not 
dealing with a small boy, and, assuming as easy 
and serious a mien as I could, I said:— "Of 
course I like you very much, Zinaida Alexan- 
drovna ; I have no desire to conceal the fact." 

She shook her head, pausing at intervals.— 
" Have you a governor? "—she suddenly in- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" No, I have not had a governor this long time 

I lied: a month had not yet elapsed since I 
had parted with my Frenchman. 

" Oh, yes, I see: you are quite grown up." 

She slapped me lightly on the fingers.—" Hold 
your hands straight!"— And she husied herself 
diligently with winding her hall. 

I took advantage of the fact that she did not 
raise her eyes, and set to scrutinising her, first by 
stealth, then more and more boldly. Her face 
seemed to me even more charming than on the day 
before: everything about it was so delicate, intel- 
ligent and lovely. She was sitting with her back 
to the window, which was hung with a white 
shade; a ray of sunlight making its way through 
that shade inundated with a fiood of light her 
flufi^y golden hair, her innocent neck, sloping 
shoulders, and calm, tender bosom.— I gazed at 
her— and how near and dear she became to met 
It seemed to me both that I had known her for 
a long time and that I had known nothing and 
had not lived before she came. . • . She wore a 
rather dark, already shabby gown, with an apron; 
I believe I would willingly have caressed every 
fold of that gown and of that apron. The tips of 
her shoes peeped out from imder her gown; I 
would have bowed down to those little boots. . . 
" And here I sit, in front of her,"— I thought.— 
" I have become acquainted with her .... what 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


happiness, my God! " I came near bouncing out 
of my chair with rapture, but I merely dangled 
my feet to and fro a little, like a child who is en- 
joying dainties. 

I felt as much at my ease as a fish does in water, 
and I would have liked never to leave that room 
again as long as I lived. 

Her eyelids slowly rose, and again her brilliant 
eyes beamed caressingly before me, and again she 

"How you stare at mel'*— she said slowly, 
shaking her finger at me. 

' I flushed scarlet " She understands all, 

she sees all,"— flashed through my head. " And 
i how could she fail to see and understand all? " 

Suddenly there was a clattering in the next 
room, and a sword clanked. 

" Zina! "—screamed the old Princess from the 
drawing-room. — " Byelovzoroff^ has brought thee 
a kitten." 

"A kitten!"— cried Zinaida, and springing 
headlong from her chair, she flung the ball on my 
knees and ran out. 

I also rose, and, laying the skein of wool on the 
window-sill, went into the drawing-room, and 
stopped short in amazement. In the centre of the 
room lay a kitten with outstretched paws; Zinaida 
was kneeling in front of it, and carefully raising 
its snout. By the side of the young Princess, tak- 
ing up nearly the entire wall-space between the 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


windows, was visible a f air-complexioned, curly- 
haired young man, a hussar, with a rosy face and, 
protruding eyes. 

"How ridiculous!"— Zinaida kept repeating: 
— " and its eyes are not grey, but green, and what 
big ears it has! Thank you, Viktor Egoritch! 
you are very kind." 

The hussar, in whom I recognised one of the 
young men whom I had seen on the preceding 
evening, smiled and bowed, clicking his spurs and 
clanking the links of his sword as he did so. 

" You were pleased to say yesterday that you 
wished to possess a striped kitten with large ears 
.... so I have got it, madam. Your word is 
my law."— And again he bowed. 

The kitten mewed faintly, and began to sniff at 
the floor. 

"He is hungry!"— cried Zinaida.— " Voni- 
faty! Sonya! bring some milk." 

The chambermaid, in an old yellow gown and 
with a faded kerchief on her head, entered with a 
saucer of milk in her hand, and placed it in front 
of the kitten. The kitten quivered, blinked, and 
began to lap. 

"What a rosy tongue it has,"— remarked 
Zinaida, bending her head down almost to the 
floor, and looking sideways at it, under its very 

The kitten drank its fill, and began to purr, af- 
fectedly contracting and relaxing its paws. Zi- 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


naida rose to her feet, and turning to the maid, 
said indifferently:—" Take it away." 

" Your hand— in return for the kitten,"— said 
the hussar, displaying his teeth, and bending over 
the whole of his huge body, tightly confined in a 
new uniform. 

" Both hands,"— replied Zinaida, offering him 
her hands. While he was kissing them, she gazed 
at me over his shoulder. 

I stood motionless on one spot, and did not 
know whether to laugh or to say something, or to 
hold my peace. Suddenly, through the open door 
of the anteroom, the figure of our footman, 
Feodor, caught my eye. He was making signs 
to ine. I mechanically went out to him. 

" What dost thou want? "—I asked. 

" Your mamma has sent for you,"— he said in 
a whisper.—" She is angry because you do not re- 
turn with an answer." 

" Why, have I been here long? " 

" More than an hour." 

" More than an hour! "—I repeated involun- 
tarily, and returning to the drawing-room, I be- 
gan to bow and scrape my foot. 

" Where are you going? "—the yoimg Princess 
asked me, with a glance at the hussar. 

" I must go home, madam. So I am to say," — 
I added, addressing the old woman,—" that you 
will call upon us at two o'clock." 

" Say that, my dear fellow." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC , 


The old Princess hurriedly drew out her snuff- 
box, and took a pinch so noisily that I fairly 
jumped.—" Say that,"— she repeated, tearfully 
blinking and grunting. 

I bowed once more, turned and left the room 
with the same sensation of awkwardness in my 
back which a very young man experiences when 
he knows that people are staring after him. 

" Look here, M'sieu Voldemar, you must drop 
in to see us,"— called Zinaida, and again burst out 

"What makes her laugh all the time?" I 
thought, as I wended my way home accompanied 
by Feodor, who said nothing to me, but moved 
along disapprovingly behind me. My mother re- 
proved me, and inquired, with, surprise, "What 
could I have been doing so long at the Prin- 
cess's? " I made her no answer, and went off to 
my own room. I had suddenly grown very mel- 
ancholy. ... I tried not to weep. . • . I was 
jealous of the hussar. 

The Princess, according to her promise, called 
on my mother, and did not please her. I was not 
present at their meeting, but at table my mother 
narrated to my father that that Princess Zasyekin 
seemed to her a femme tres vulgaire; that she had 
bored her immensely with her requests that she 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


would intervene on her behalf with Prince Ser- 
gyei; that she was always having such law-suits 
and affairs,— cZ^ vilaines affaires d^argent^— and 
that she must be a great rogue. But my mother 
added that she had invited her with her daughter 
to dine on the following day (on hearing the 
words " with her daughter," I dropped my nose 
into my plate),— because, notwithstanding, she 
was a neighbour, and with a name. Thereupon 
my father informed my mother that he now re- 
called who the lady was: that in his youth he had 
known the late Prince Zasyekin, a capitally-edu- 
cated but flighty and captious man; that in so- 
ciety he was called ^'^ le Parisien/^ because of his 
long residence in Paris; that he had been very 
wealthy, but had gambled away all his property 
—and, no one knew why, though probably it had 
been for the sake of the money,—" although he 
might have made a better choice,"— added my 
father, with a cold smile,— he had married the 
daughter of some clerk in a chancellery, and after 
his marriage had gone into speculation, and 
ruined himself definitively. 

" 'T is a wonder she did not try to borrow 
money,"— remarked my mother. 

" She is very likely to do it,"— said my father, 
calmly.—" Does she speak French? " 

" Very badly." 

" M-m-m. However, that makes no difference. 

Digitized by VjOOQ ICv 


I think thou saidst that thou hadst invited her 
daughter; some one assured me that she is a very 
charming and well-educated girl/' 

"Ah! Then she does not take after her 

" Nor after her father,"— returned my father. 
— " He was also well educated, but stupid." 

My mother sighed, and became thoughtful. 
My father relapsed into silence. I felt very awk- 
ward during the course of that conversation. 

After dinner I betook myself to the garden, 
but without my gun. I had pledged my word to 
myself that I would not go near the " Zasyekin 
garden " ; but an irresistible force drew me thither, 
and not in vain. I had no sooner approached the 
fence than I caught sight of Zinaida. This time 
she was alone. She was holding a small book in 
her hands and strolling slowly along the path. 
She did not notice me. I came near letting her 
slip past; but suddenly caught myself up and 

She turned roimd but did not pause, put aside 
with one hand the broad blue ribbon of her round 
straw hat, looked at me, smiled quietly, and again 
riveted her eyes on her book. 

I pulled ojff my cap, and after fidgeting about 
a while on one spot, I went away with a heavy 
heajrt. ''Que suis-je pour elle?"—l thought 
(G^d knows why) in French. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Familiar footsteps resounded behind me; I 
glanced romid and beheld my father advancing 
toward me with swift, rapid strides. 

" Is that the yomig Princess? "—he asked me. 

" Yes." 

" Dost thou know her? " 

" I saw her this morning at the Princess her 

My father halted and, wheeling abruptly 
round on his heels, retraced his steps. As he came 
\y pn a level with Zinaida he bowed courteously to 
\- Mier. She bowed to him in retiu^n, not without 
some surprise on her face, and lowered her bo^k. 
I saw that she followed him with her eyes. My 
father always dressed very elegantly, originally 
and simply; but his figure had never seemed to 
me more graceful, never had his grey hat sat more 
handsomely on his curls, which were barely begin- 
ning to grow thin. 

I was on the point of directing my course to- 
ward Zinaida, but she did not even look at me, 
but raised her book once more and walked awav. 



I SPENT the whole of that evening and the foY low- 
ing day in a sort of gloomy stupor. I remeij ^iber 
that I made an effort to work, and took up j^ncegai- 
danoff; but in vain did the large-printed i lines 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



and pages of the famous text-book flit before my 
eyes. Ten times in succession I read the words: 
"Julius Caesar was distinguished for military 
daring," without understanding a word, and I 
flung aside my book. Before dinner I pomaded 
my hair again, and again donned my frock-coat 
and neckerchief. 

" What 's that for? "—inquired my mother.— 
" Thou art not a student yet, and God knows whe- 
ther thou wilt pass thy examination. And thy 
round- jacket was made not very long ago. Thou 
must not discard it! " 

" There are to be guests,"— I whispered, almost 
in despair. 

"What nonsense! What sort of guests are 
they? " 

I was compelled to submit. I exchanged my 
coat for my round- jacket, but did not remove my 
neckerchief. The Princess and her daughter 
made their appearance half an hour before din- 
ner; the old woman had thrown a yellow shawl 
over her green gown, with which I was familiar, 
and had donned an old-fashioned mob-cap with 
ribbons of a fiery hue. She immediately began to 
talk about her notes of hand, to sigh and to be- 
wail her poverty, and to " importune," but did 
not stand in the least upon ceremony; and she 
took snufi* noisily and fidgeted and wriggled in 
her chair as before. It never seemed to enter her 
head that she was a Princess. On the other hand, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Zinaida bore herself very stiffly, almost haughtily, 
like a real young Princess. Cold impassivity and 
dignity had made their appearance on her coun- 
tenance, and I did not recognise her,— did not 
recognise her looks or her smile, although in this 
new aspect she seemed to me very beautiful. She 
wore a thin barege gown with pale-blue figures; 
her hair fell in long curls along her cheeks, in the 
English fashion: this coijffure suited the cold ex- 
pression of her face. 

My father sat beside her during dinner, and 
with the exquisite and imperturbable coiuiesy 
] which was characteristic of him, showed attention 
to his neighbour. He glanced at her from time to 
time, and she glanced at him now and then, but 
jin such a strange, almost hostile, manner. 
Their conversation proceeded in French;— I 
remember that I was surprised at the purity of 
Zinaida's accent. The old Princess, as before, 
did not restrain herself in the slightest degree dur- 
ing dinner, but ate a great deal and praised the 
food. My mother evidently found her wearisome, 
and answered her with a sort of sad indifference; 
. my father contracted his brows in a slight frown 
from time to time. My mother did not like Zi- 
naida either. 

" She 's a haughty young sprig,"— she said the 
next day. — " And when one comes to think t)f it, 
what is there for her to be proud of^—avec sa 
mine de grisette! ^^ 


Digitized by Google ;' ! 


" Evidently, thou hast not seen any grisettes," 
—my father remarked to her. 

" Of com-se I have n't, God he thanked! 

Only^how art thou capahle of judging of them? '' 

Zinaida paid absolutely no attention whatever 
to me. Soon after dinner the old Princess began 
to take her leave. 

" I shall rely upon your protection, Marya 
Nikolaevna and Piotr Vasilitch,"— she said, in 
a sing-song tone, to my father and mother.— 
"What is to be done! I have seen prosperous 
days, but they are gone. Here am I a Radiance," 
—she added, with an unpleasant laugh,— "but 
what 's the good of an honour when you Ve no- 
thing to eat? "—My father bowed respectfully to 
her and escorted her to the door of the anteroom. 
I was standing there in my round- jacket, and 
staring at the floor, as though condenmed to 
death. Zinaida's behaviour toward me had de- 
finitively annihilated me. What, then, was my 
amazement when, as she passed me, she whispered 
to me hastily, and with her former affectionate 
expression in her eyes:—" Come to us at eight 
o'clock, do you hear? without fail. ..." I merely 
threw my hands apart in amazement;— but she 
was already retreating, having thrown a white 
scarf over her head. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Peecisely at eight o'clock I entered the tiny 
wing inhabited by the Princess, clad in my coat, 
and with my hair brushed up into a crest on top 
of my head. The old servant glared surlily at 
me, and rose reluctantly from his bench. Merry 
voices resounded in the drawing-room. I opened 
the door and retreated a pace in astonishment. In 
the middle of the room, on a chair, stood the 
young Princess, holding a man's hat in front of 
her; around the chair thronged five men. They 
were trying to dip their hands into the hat, but she 
kept raising it on high and shaking it violently. 
On catching sight of me she exclaimed:— 

" Stay, stay! Here 's a new guest; he must be 
given a ticket,"— and springing lightly from the 
chair, she seized me by the lapel of my coat. — 
" Come along,"— said she;—" why do you stand 
there? Messieurs, allow me to make you ac- 
quainted: this is Monsieiu* Voldemar, the son of 
our neighbour. And this,"— she added, turning 
to me, and pointing to the visitors in turn,—" is 
Count Malevsky, Doctor Liishin, the poet Mai- 
ddnoff , retired Captain Nirmatzky, and Byelov- 
zoroff the hussar, whom you have already seen. 
I beg that you will love and favour each other." 

I was so confused that I did not even bow to 
any one; in Doctor Liishin I recognised that same 


Digitized by CjOOQI^ '\^ 


swarthy gentleman who had so ruthlessly put me 
to shame in the garden; the others were strangers 

" Count! "—pursued Zinaida,— " write a ticket 
for M'sieu Voldemar." 

" That is unjust,"— returned the Count, with a 
slight accent,— a very handsome and foppishly- 
attired man, with a dark complexion, expressive 
brown eyes, a thin, white little nose, and a slender 
moustache over his tiny mouth.— "He has not 
been playing at forfeits with us." 

" 'T is unjust,"— repeated Byelovzorojff and 
the gentleman who had been alluded to as the re- 
tired Captain,— a man of forty, horribly pock- 
marked, curly-haired as a negro, round-shoul- 
dered, bow-legged, and dressed in a military coat 
without epaulets, worn open on the breast. 

"Write a ticket, I tell you,"— repeated the 
Princess.— " What sort of a rebellion is this? 
M'sieu Voldemar is with us for the first time, and 
to-day no law applies to him. No grumbling- 
write; I will have it so." 

The Count shrugged his shoulders, but submis- 
sively bowing his head, he took a pen in his white, 
ring-decked hand, tore off a scrap of paper and 
began to write on it. 

" Permit me at least to explain to M'sieu 
Voldemar what it is all about,"— began Liishin, 
in a bantering tone;—" otherwise he will be ut- 
terly at a Ibss. You see, young man, we are play- 


\ "^ •- Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ing at forfeits; the Princess must pay a fine, and 
the one who draws out the lucky ticket must kiss 
her hand. Do you understand what I have told 

I merely glanced at him and continued to stand 
as though in a fog, while the Princess again 
sprang upon the chair and again began to shake 
the hat. All reached up to her— I among the rest. 

" Maidanoff ,''— said the Princess to the tall 
young man with a gaunt face, tiny mole-like eyes 
and extremely long, black hair,—" you, as a poet, 
ought to be magnanimous and surrender your 
ticket to M'sieu Voldemar, so that he may have 
two chances instead of one." 

But Maidanojff shook his head in refusal and 
tossed his hair. I put in my hand into the hat 
after all the rest, drew out and unfolded a ticket. 
. . . O Lord! what were my sensations when I 
beheld on it, "Kiss!" 

" Kiss! "—I cried involuntarily. 

" Bravo! He has won,"— chimed in the Prin- 
cess.—" How delighted I am! "—She descended 
from the chair, and gazed into my eyes so clearly 
and sweetly that my heart fairly laughed witii 
joy.— "And are you glad?"— she asked me. 

"!?"...! stammered. 

" Sell me your ticket,"— suddenly blurted out 
Byelovzoroff, right in my ear.—" I '11 give you 
one hundred rubles for it." 

I replied to the hussar by such a wrathful look 

' ~' ^, Digitized by VjOOQlp 


that Zinaida clapped her hands, and Lushin cried : 
— " That 's a gallant fellow! " 

" But,"— he went on,—" in my capacity of 
master of ceremonies, I am bound to see that all 
the regulations are carried out. M'sieu Volde- 
mar, get down on one knee. That is our rule." 

Zinaida stood before me with her head bent a 
little to one side, as though the better to scrutinise 
me, and offered me her hand with dignity. 
Things grew dim before my eyes; I tried to get 
down on one knee, pltmiped down on both knees, 
and applied my lips to Zinaida's fingers in so awk- 
ward a manner that I scratched the tip of my 
nose slightly on her nails. 

" Good! "—shouted Lushin, and helped me to 

The game of forfeits continued. Zinaida 
placed me beside her. What penalties they did 
invent! Among other things, she had to imper- 
sonate a " statue "—and she selected as a pedestal 
the monstrously homely Nirmatzky, ordering 
him to lie flat on the floor, and to tuck his face into 
his breast. The laughter did not cease for a sin- 
gle moment. All this noise and uproar, this un- 
ceremonious, almost tumultuous merriment, these 
unprecedented relations with strangers, fairly 
flew to my head; for I was a boy who had been 
A reared soberly, and in solitude, and had grown up 
yn a stately home of gentry. I became simply in- 
toxicated, as though with wine. I began to shout 


^ ^^itm.- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


with laughter and chatter more loudly than the 
rest, so that even the old Princess, who was sitting 
in the adjoining room with some sort of petti- 
f dgger from the tversky Gate * who had been 
summoned for a conference, came out to take a 
look at me. But I felt so happy that, as the say- 
ing is, I didn't care a farthing for anybody's 
ridicule, or anybody's oblique glances. 

Zinaida continued to display a preference for 
me and never let me leave her side. In one forfeit 
I was made to sit by her, covered up with one 
and the same silk kerchief: I was boimd to tell 
her my secret. I remember how our two heads 
foimd themselves suddenly in choking, semi- 
transparent, fragrant gloom; how near and 
softly her eyes sparkled in that gloom, and how 
hotly her parted lips breathed ; and her teeth were 
visible, and the tips of her hair tickled and burned 
me. I maintained silence. She smiled mysteri- 
ously and slyly, and at last whispered to me: 
" Well, what is it? " But I merely flushed and 
laughed, and turned away, and could hardly draw 
my breath. We got tired of forfeits, and began 
to play " string." Good heavens! what rapture 
I felt when, forgetting myself with gaping, I re- 
ceived from her a strong, sharp rap on my fingers ; 
and how afterward I tried to pretend that I was 

1 The famous gate from the "White town " into the " China town,** 
in Moscow, where there is a reno;wned holy picture of the Iberian 
Virgin, in a chapeL Evidently the lawyers' quarter was in this vi- 
cinity. — Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


yawning with inattention, but she mocked at me 
and did not touch my hands, which were await- 
ing the blow! 

But what a lot of other pranks we played that 
same evening! We played on the piano, and 
sang, and danced, and represented a gipsy camp. 
We dressed Nirmatzky up like a bear, and 
fed him with water and salt. Count Malev- 
sky showed us several card tricks, and ended by 
stacking the cards and dealing himself all the 
trumps at whist; upon which Lushin "had the 
honour of congratulating him." Maidanojff de- 
claimed to us fragments from his poem, " The 
Murderer " (this occurred in the very thick of 
romanticism) , which he intended to publish in a 
black binding, with the title in letters of the colour 
of blood. We stole his hat from the knees of the 
pettifogger from the Iversky [Gate, and made 
him dance the kazak dance by way of redeeming 
it. We dressed old Vonifpty up in a mob-cap, and . 
the young Princess put on a man's hat. ... It is 
impossible to recount all we did. Byelovzoroff 
alone remained most of the time in a corner, an- 
gry and frowning. . . . Sometimes his eyes be- 
came suffused with blood, he grew scailet all over 
and seemed to be on the very point of swooping 
down upon all of us and scattering us on all sides, 
like chips; but the Princess glanced at him, men- 
aced him with her finger> and again he retired 
into his comer. 


^' Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


We were completely exhausted at last. The 
old Princess was equal to anything, as she put it, 
—no shouts disconcerted her,— but she felt tired 
and wished to rest. At midnight supper was 
served, consisting of a bit of old, dry cheese and a 
few cold patties filled with minced ham, which 
seemed to us more savoury than any pasty; there 
was only one bottle of wine, and that was rather 
queer:— dark, with a swollen neck, and the wine 
in it left an after-taste of pinkish dye ; however, no 
one drank it. Weary and happy to exhaustion, I 
emerged from the wingij, thnndpr-stftrm isfemH 
to be brewing; the black, storm-douds grew 
laf ger and crept across the sky, visibly altering 
their smoky outlines, A light breeze was uneasily 
quiveritig in the dark trees, and somewhere be- 
yond the horizon the thunder was growling an- 
grily and dully, as though to itself. 

I made my way through the back door to my 
room. My nurse-valet was sleeping on the floor 
and I was obliged to step over him; he woke up, 
saw me, and reported that my mother was an- 
gry with me, and had wanted to send after me 
again, but that my father had restrained her. I 
never went to bed without having bidden my mo- 
ther good night and begged her blessing. There 
was no help for it I I told my valet that I would 
imdress myself and go to bed imaided, — and ex- 
tinguished the candle. But I did not imdress and 
I did not go to bed. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


I seated myself on a chair and sat there for a 
long time, as though enchanted. That which I 

felt was so new and so sweet I sat there, 

hardly looking aromid me and without moving, 
breathing slowly, and only laughing silently now, 
as I recalled, now inwardly turning cold at the 
thought that I was in love, that here it was, that 
love. Zinaida's face floated softly before me in 
the darkness— floated, but did not float away; her 
lips still smiled as mysteriously as ever, her eyes 
gazed somewhat askance at me, interrogatively, 
thoughtfully and tenderly .... as at the mo- 
ment when I had parted from her. At last I rose 
on tiptoe, stepped to my bed and cautiously, with- 
out midressing, laid my head on the pillow, as 
though endeavouring by the sharp movement to 
frighten off that wherewith I was filled to over- 
flowing. ... / 

I lay down, but did not even close an eye. I 
speedily perceived that certain faint reflections 

kept constantly falling into my room I 

raised myself and looked out of the window. Its 
frame was distinctly defined from the mysteri- 
ously and confusedly whitened panes. " 'T is the 
thunder-storm,"— I thought,— and so, in fact, 
there was a thunder-storm ; but it had passed very 
far away, so that even the claps of thunder were 
not audible; only in the sky long, indistinct, 
branching flashes of lightning, as it were, were 
uninterruptedly flashing up. They were not 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 




flashing up so much as they were quivering and! 
twitching, like the wing of a dying bird, I rose, 
went to the window, and stood there until morn- 
ing. • • . The lightning-flashes never ceased fori 
a moment; it was what is called a pitch-black 
night. I gazed at the dumb, sandy plain, at the 
dark mass of the Neskiitchny Park, at the yellow- 
ish fa9ades of the distant buildings, which also 
seemed to be trembling at every faint flash. . . . 
I gazed, and could not tear myself away; those 
dumb lightning-flashes, those restrained gleams, 
seemed to be responding to the dumb and secret 
outbiu'sts which were flaring up within me 
also. Morning began to break; the dawn started 
forth in scarlet patches. With the approach of 
the sun the lightning-flashes grew paler and 
paler; they quivered more and more infrequently, 
and vanished at last, drowned in the sober- 
ing and unequivocal light of the breaking 

And my lightning-flashes vanished within me 
also. I felt great fatigue and tranquillity . . • but 
Zinaida's image continued to hover triumphantly 
over my soul. Only it, that image, seemed calm; 
like a flying swan from the marshy sedges, it 
separated itself from the other ignoble figures 
which siu'rounded it, and as I fell asleep, I bowed 
down before it for the last time in farewell and 
confiding adoration. . . . 

Oh, gentle emotions, soft soimds, kindness anc 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC ' 


calming of the deeply-moved soul, melting joy of 
the first feelings of love, — ^where are ye, where 
are ye? 


On the following morning, when I went down- 
stairs to tea, my mother scolded me,— although 
less than I had anticipated,— and made me nar- 
rate how I had spent the preceding evening. I 
answered her in few words, omitting many par- 
ticulars and endeavouring to impart to my narra- 
tive the most innocent of aspects. 

" Nevertheless, they are not people comme il 
faut/*— remarked my mother;— "and I do not 
wish thee to run after them, instead of preparing 
thyself for the examination, and occupying thy- 

As I knew that my mother's anxiety was con- 
fined to these few words, I did not consider it 
necessary to make her any reply; but after tea my 
father linked his arm in mine, and betaking him- 
self to the garden with me, made me tell him 
everything I had done and seen at the Zasyekins'. 

My father possessed a strange influence over 
me, and our relations were strange. He paid 
hardly any attention to my education, but he 
never wounded me; he respected my liberty— he 
was even, if I may so express it, courteous to me 
j9ilte he did not allow me to get close to him. 
/ 39 

I Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



I I loved him, I admired him; he seemed to me a 

I model man; and great heavens! how passionately 

i attached to him I should have been, had I not eon- 

\ stantly felt his hand warding me off! On the 

f other hand, when he wished, he miderstood how 

, to evoke in me, instantaneously, with one word, 

one movement, imbounded confidence in him. My 

I soul opened, I chatted with him as with an intelli- 

i gent friend, as with an indulgent preceptor .... 

\ then, with equal suddenness, he abandoned me, 

. and again his hand repulsed me, caressingly and 

softly, but repulsed nevertheless. 

Sometimes a fit of mirth came over him, and 
then he was ready to frolic and play with me 
like a boy (he was fond of every sort of ener- 
getic bodily exercise) ; once— only once— did he 
caress me with so much tenderness that I came 
near bursting into tears. . . . But his mirth and 
tenderness also vanished without leaving a trace, 
and what had taken place between us gave me no 
hopes for the future; it was just as though I had 
seen it all in a dream. I used to stand and scru- 
tinise his clever, handsome, brilliant face .... 
and my heart would begin to quiver, and my 
whole being would yearn toward him, .... and he 
would seem to feel what was going on within me, 
and would pat me on the cheek in passing— and 
either go away, or begin to occupy himself with 
something, or suddenly freeze all over,— as he 
alone knew how to freeze,— and Pwottid iE^gfidi- 


Digitized by VjQOQIC 



ately shrivel up and grow frigid also. His rare 
fits of affection for me were never called forth 
by my speechless but intelligible entreaties; they 
always came upon him without warning. When 
meditating, in after years, upon my father's char- 
acter, I came to the conclusion that he did not 
care for me or for family life ; he loved something 
different, and enjoyed that other thing to the 
full. " Seize what thou canst thyself, and do not 
give thyself into any one's power; the whole art o f 
life consists in belonging to one's self,"— he said 
to me once. On another occasion T, in my ca- 
pacity of a young democrat, launched out in his 
presence into arguments about liberty (he was 
what I called " kind " that day; at such times one 
could say whatever one liked to him).— "Lib- 
erty,"— he repeated,—" but dost thou know what 
can give a man liberty? " 


"Will, his own will, and the power which it 
gives is better than liberty. Learn to will, and 
thou wilt be free, and wilt command." 

My father wished, first of all and most of all, 
to enjoy life— and he did enjoy life Per- 
haps he had a presentiment that he was not fated 
long to take advantage of the " art " of living: he 
died at the age of forty-two. 

I described to my father in detail my visit to 
the Zasyekins. He listened to me half -atten- 
tively, half -abstractedly, as he sat on the bench 




Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


and drew figures on the sand with the tip of his 
riding-whip. Now and then he laughed, glanced 
at me in a brilliant, amused sort of way, and 
spurred me on by brief questions and exclama- 
tions. At first I could not bring myself even to 
utter Zinaida's name, but I could not hold out, 
and began to laud her. My father still continued 
to laugh. Then he became thoughtful, dropped 
his eyes and rose to his feet. 

I recalled the fact that, as he came out of the 
house, he had given orders that his horse should 
be saddled. He was a capital rider, and knew 
much better how to tame the wildest horses than 
did Mr. Rarey. 

" Shall I ride with thee, papa? "—I asked him. 

" No,"— he replied, and his face assiuned 
its habitual indifferently-caressing expression. — 
" Go alone, if thou wishest; but tell the coachman 
that I shall not go." 

He turned his back on me and walked swiftly 

away. I followed him with my eyes, until he dis- 

^/ appeared beyond the gate, I saw his hat moving 

/ along the fence; he went into the Zasyekins' 

; house. 

He remained with them no more than an hour, 
but immediately thereafter went off to town and 
did not return home until evening. 

After dinner I went to the Zasyekins' myself. 

I found no one in the drawing-room but the old 

, Princess. When she saw me, she scratched her 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


head under her cap with tlie end of her knitting- 
needle, and suddenly asked me: would I copy a 
petition for her? 

" With pleasure,"— I replied, and sat down on 
the edge of a chair. 

''' Only look out, and see that you make the let- 
ters ai' large as possible,"— said the Princess, 
handing me a sheet of paper scrawled over in a 
slovenly manner: — " and couldn't you do it to- 
day, my dear fellow? " 

" I will copy it this very day, madam." 

The door of the adjoining room opened a mere \ 
crack and Zinaida's face showed itself in the aper- \ 
ture,— pale, thoughtful, with hair thrown care- 
lessly back. She stared at me with her large, cold 
eyes, and softly shut the door. 

"Zina,— hey there, Zinal"— said the old wo- 
man. Zinaida did not answer. I carried away 
the old woman's petition, and sat over it the whole 
evening. _«. 


[y " passira^ began with that day. I remember 
5enf elt something of that which a man 
must feel when he enters the service: I had al- » 
ready ceased to be a young lad; I was in love. I 
have said that my passion dated from that day; I 
might have added that my sufferings also dated 
from that day. I languished when absent from - 
Zinaida ; my mind would not work, everything 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


fell from my hands ; I thought intently of her for 
days together. • . . I languished . . • . but in 
her presence I was no more at ease. I was jeal- 
ous, I recognised my insignificance, I stupidly 
sulked and stupidly fawned; and, neverthelrv^an 
irresistible force drew me to her, and every time I 
stepped across the threshold of her room, jit was 
with an involuntary thrill of happiness. 2;yinaida 
immediately divined that I had fallen in lov.^. with 
her, and I never thought of concealing the l^^^ct; 
she mocked at my passion, played tricks on me, 
petted and tormented me. It is sweet to be the 
sole source, the autocratic and irresponsible cause 
of the greatest joys and the profoundest woe to 
another person, and I was like soft wax in Zi- 
naida's hands. However, I was not the only one 
who was in love with her; all the men who were 
in the habit of visiting her house were crazy over 
her, and she kept them all in a leash at her feet. 
It amused her to arouse in them now hopes, now 
fears, to twist them about at her caprice (she 
called it, "knocking people against one an- 
other"),— and they never thought of resisting, 
and willingly submitted to her. In all her viva- 
cious and beautiful being there was a certain pe- 
culiarly bewitching mixture of guilef ulness and 
heedlessness, of artificiality and simplicity, of 
tranquillity and playfulness; over everything she 
did or said, over her every movement, hovered a 
light, delicate charm, and an original, sparkling 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


force made itself felt in everything. And her 
face was incessantly changing and sparkling 
also; it expressed almost simultaneously derision, 
pensiveness, and passion. The most varied emo- 
tions, light, fleeting as the shadows of the clouds 
on a sunny, windy day, kept flitting over her eyes 
and lips. 

Every one of her adorers was necessary to her. 
Byelovzoroff^, whom she sometimes called " my 
wild beast," and sometimes simply " my own," 
would gladly have flung himself into the fire for 
her; without trusting to his mental capacities and 
other merits, he kept proposing that he should 
marry her, and hinting that the others were 
merely talking idly. Maidanoff^ responded to the 
poetical chords of her soul: a rajhcr cold mnn^ nr^ 
nearly all writers are, he assured her with intense 
force— and perhaps himself also— that he adored 
her. He sang her praises in interminable verses 
and read them to her with an unnatural and a gen- 
uine sort of enthusiasm. And she was interested in 
him and jeered lightly at him; she did not believe 
in him greatly, and after listening to his eff^u- 
sions she made him read Pushkin, in order, as she 
said, to piu'ify the air. Lushin, the sneering doc- 
tor, who was cynical in speech, knew her best of 
all and loved her best of all, although he abused 
her to her face and behind her back. She re-i 
spected him, but would not let him go, and some- 
times, with a peculiar, malicious pleasure, made 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


him feel that he was in her hands. " I am a co- 
quette, I am heartless, I have the nature of an 
actress," she said to him one day in my presence ; 
" and 't is well! So give me your hand and I will 
stick a pin into it, and you will feel ashamed be- 
fore this young man, and it will hurt you ; but nev- 
ertheless, Mr. Upright Man, you will be so good 
as to laugh." Liishin flushed crimson, turned 
away and bit his lips, but ended by putting out 
his hand. She pricked it, and he actually did 
break out laughing .... and she laughed also, 
thrusting the pin in pretty deeply and gazing into 
his eyes while he vainly endeavoured to glance 
aside. ... 

I understood least of all the relations existing 
between Zinaida and Count Malevsky. That he 
was handsome, adroit, and clever even I felt, but 
the presence in him of some false, dubious ele- 

, ment, was palpable even to me, a lad of sixteen, 
and I was amazed that Zinaida did not notice it. 
But perhaps she did detect that false element and 
it did not repel her. An irregular education, 

1 strange acquaintances, the constant presence of 
her mother, the poverty and disorder in the house 
— all this, beginning with the very freedom which 
the young girl enjoyed, together with the con- 
sciousness of her own superiority to the people 
who surrounded her, had developed in her a cer- 
tain half -scornful carelessness and lack of exac- 
tion. No matter what happened— whether Voni- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


f aty came to report that there was no sugar, or 
some wretched bit of gossip came to light, or the 
visitors got into a quarrel among themselves, she 
merely shook her curls, and said: "Nonsense!" 
— and grieved very little over it. 

On the contrary, all my blood would begin to 
seethe when Malevsky would approach her, 
swaying his body cunningly like a fox, lean ele- 
gantly over the back of her chair and begin to 
whisper in her ear with a conceited and challeng- 
ing smile, while she would fold her arms on her 
breast, gaze attentively at him and smile also, 
shaking her head the while. 

" What possesses you to receive Malevsky? ''— 
I asked her one day. 

" Why, he has such handsome eyes,'*— she re- 
plied. — " But that is no business of yours." 

" You are not to think that I am in love with 
him,"— she said to me on another occasion.— , 
" No ; I cannot love people upon whom I am 
forced to look down. I must have some one who \ 
can subdue me. . . . And I shall not hit upon 
such an one, for God is merciful! I shall not 
spare any one who falls into my paws— no, no!" 
" Do you mean to say that you will never fall 
in love?" 

" And how about you? Don't I love you? "— 
she said, tapping me on the nose with the tip of 
her glove. 
Yes, Zinaida made great fim of me. For the 


1 Digitized by VjOOQ IC 




space of three weeks I saw her every day; and 
what was there that she did not do to me! She 
came to us rarely, but I did uot regret that ; in our 
house she was converted into a yoimg lady, a Prin- 
cess,— and I avoided her. I was afraid of betray- 
ing myself to my mother; she was not at all well 
disposed toward Zinaida, and kept a disagreeable 
watch on us. I was not so much afraid of my fa- 
ther; he did not appear to notice me, and talked 
little with her, but that little in a peculiarly clever 
and significant manner. I ceased to work, to 
read; I even ceased to stroll about the environs 
and to ride on horseback. Like a beetle tied by 
the leg, I hovered incessantly around the beloved 
wing; I believe I would have liked to remain there 

forever but that was impossible. My 

mother grumbled at me, and sometimes Zinaida 
herself drove me out. On such occasions I shut 
myself up in my own room, or walked off to the 
very end of the garden, climbed upon the sound 
remnant of a tall stone hothouse, and dangling 
my legs over the wall, I sat there for hours and 
stared,— stared without seeing anything. White 
butterflies lazily flitted among the nettles beside 
me; an audacious sparrow perched not far off on 
the half -demolished red bricks and twittered in an 
irritating manner, incessantly twisting his whole 
body about and spreading out his tail; the still 
distrustful crows now and then emitted a caw, as 
they sat high, high above me on the naked crest 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 1 


of a birch-tree ; the sun and the wind played softly 
through its sparse branches; the chiming of the 
bells, calm and melancholy, at the Don Monastery 
was wafted to me now and then,— and I sat on, 
gazing and listening, and became filled with a cer- 
tain nameless sensation which embraced every- 
thing: sadness and joy, and a presentiment of the 
future, and the desire and the fear of life. But 
I u^iderstpod nothing at the time of all that which 
was fermenting within me, or I would have called " 
it all by oiie name, the name of Zinaida. 

But ZihaMa contimied^te-pkkjMsith me as a cat 
plays with a mouse. Now she coquetted with me, 
and I grew agitated and melted with emotion; 
now she repulsed me, and I dared not approach 
her, dared not look at her. 

I remember that she was very cold toward me 
for several days in succession and I thoroughly 
quailed, and when I timidly ran to the wing to 
see them, I tried to keep near the old Princess, de- 
spite the fact that she was scolding and screaming 
a great deal just at that time: her affairs con- 
nected with her notes of hand were going badly, 
and she had also had two scenes with the police- 
captain of the precinct. 

One day I was walking through the garden, 
past the familiar fence, when I caught sight of 
Zinaida. Propped up on both arms, she was sit- 
ting motionless on the grass. I tried to withdraw 
cautiously, but she suddenly raised her head and 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


made an imperious sign to me. I became petrified 
on the spot; I did not understand her the first 
time. She repeated her sign. I inunediately 
sprang over the fence and ran joyfully to her; 
but she stopped me with a look and pointed to the 
path a couple of paces from her. In my confu- 
sion, not knowing what to do, I knelt down on the 
edge of the path. She was so pale, such bitter 
grief, such profound weariness were revealed in 
her every feature, that my heart contracted within 
me, and I involuntarily murmured: " What is the 
matter with you? " 

Zinaida put out her hand, plucked a blade of 
grass, bit it, and tossed it away as far as she could. 
i " Do you love me very much? '*— she inquired 
I suddenly.-" Yes?" 

I I made no answer,— and what answer was there 
\ for me to make? 

" Yes,"— she repeated, gazing at me as before. 

— " It is so. They are the same eyes,"— she 

i added, becoming pensive, and covering her face 

j with her hands.—" Everything has become repul- 

j sive to me,"— she whispered;—" I would like to 

■ go to the end of the world; I cannot endure this, 

; I cannot reconcile myself. . . . And what is in 

! store for me? ... . Akh, I am heavy at heart 

I . • . . my God, how heavy at heart! " 

" Why? "—I timidly inquired. 

Zinaida did not answer me and merely 

shrugged her shoulders. I continued to kneel and 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


to gaze at her with profound melancholy. Every 
word of hers fairly cut me to the heart. At that 
moment, I think I would willingly have given my 
life to keep her from grieving. I gazed at her, 
and nevertheless, not understanding why she was 
heavy at heart, I vividly pictured to myself how, 
in a fit of uncontrollable sorrow, she had suddenly 
gone into the garden, and had fallen on the earth, 
as though she had been mowed down. All around 
was bright and green ; the breeze was rustling in 
the foliage of the trees, now and then rocking a 
branch of raspberry over Zinaida's head. Doves 
were cooing somewhere and the bees were hum- 
ming as they flew low over the scanty grass. 
Overhead the sky shone blue,— but I was so 


" Recite some poetry to me,"— said Zinaida in 
a low voice, leaning on her elbow.—" I like to 
hear you recite verses. You make them go in a 
sing-song, but that does not matter, it is youth- 
ful. Recite to me: ' On the Hills of Georgia.'— 
Only, sit down first." 

I sat down and recited, " On the Hills of 
\ " ' That it is impossible not to love,' "—repeated 
j Zinaida.—" That is why poetry is so nice; it says 
to us that which does not exist, and which is not 
only better than what does exist, but even more 
like the truth. ..." * That it is impossible not to 
love' ?— I would like to, but cannot! "—Again she 


\ Digitized by Google 



fell silent for a space, then suddenly started and 
rose to her feet. — " Come along. Maidanoff is 
sitting with mamma; he brought his poem to me, 
but I left him. He also is embittered now .... 
how can it be helped? Some day you will find out 
.... but you must not be angry with me! " 

Zinaida hastily squeezed my hand, and ran on 
ahead. We returned to the wing. Maidanoff set 
to reading us his poem of " The Murderer," 
which had only just been printed, but I did not 
listen. He shrieked out his four-footed iambics 
in a sing-song voice; the rhymes alternated and 
jingled like sleigh-bells, hollow and loud; but I 
kept staring all the while at Zinaida, and striving 
to understand the meaning of her strange words. 

**0r, perchance, a secret rival 
Has unexpectedly subjugated thee? " 

suddenly exclaimed Maidanoff through his nose 
—and my eyes and Zinaida's met. She dropped 
hers and blushed faintly. I saw that she was 
blushing, and turned cold with fright. I had been 
jealous before, but only at that moment did the 
thought that she had fallen in love flash through 

my mind. " My God I She is in love I " 



My real tortures began from that moment. I 
cudgelled my brains, I pondered and pondered 
again, and watched Zinaida importunately, but 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC .^ 


secretly, as far as possible. A change had taken 
place in her, that was evident. She took to going 
off alone to walk, and walked a long while. 
Sometimes she did not show herself to her visi- 
tors; she sat for hours together in her cham- 
ber. This had not been her habit hitherto. 
Suddenly I became— or it seemed to me that I 
became— extremely penetrating. " Is it he? Or 
is it not he? "—I asked myself, as in trepidation 
I mentally ran from one of her admirers to an- 
other. Count Malevsky (although I felt ashamed ! v 
to admit it for Zinaida's sake) privately seemed '^ 
to me more dangerous than the others. 

My powers of observation extended no further 
than the end of my own nose, and my dissimula- 
tion probably failed to deceive any one; at all 
events. Doctor Lushin speedily saw through me. 
Moreover, he also had undergone a change of late ; 
he had grown thin, he laughed as frequently as 
ever, but somehow it was in a duller, more spite- 
ful, a briefer way;— an involuntary, nervous irri- 
tability had replaced his former light irony and 
feigned cynicism. 

" Why are you forever tagging on here, young 
man? "—he said to me one day, when he was left 
alone with me in the Zasyekins' drawing-room. 
(The young Princess had not yet returned from 
her stroll and the shrill voice of the old Princess 
was resounding in the upper story; she was 
wrangling with her maid.) — " You ought to be 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


studying your lessons, working while you are 
young;— but instead of that, what are you do- 

" You cannot tell whether I work at home," — I . 
retorted not without arrogance, but also not with- 
out confusion. 

"Much work you do! That's not what you 
have in yoiu* head. Well, I will not dispute . . . 
at your age, that is in the natural order of things. 
But yoiu* choice is far from a happy one. Can't 
you see what sort of a house this is? " 

" I do not understand you,"— I remarked. 

"You don't understand me? So much the 
worse for you. I regard it as my duty to warn 
you. Fellows like me, old bachelors, may sit here : 
what harm will it do us? We are a hardened lot. 
You can't pierce our hide, but your skin is still 
tender; the air here is injurious for you,— believe 
me, you may become infected." 

"How so?" 

"Because you may. Are you healthy now? 
Are you in a normal condition? Is what you are 
feeling useful to you, good for you? " 

"But what am I feeling? "—said Ij— and in 
my secret soul I admitted that the doctor was 

" Eh, young man, young man,"— piu'sued the 
doctor, with an expression as though something 
extremely insulting to me were contained in those 
two words; — "there 's no use in yoiu* dissimulat- 

54 -^ 



DiPzed by Google 1 _ 


ing, for what you have in your soul you still show 
in your face, thank God! But what 's the use of 
arguing? I would not come hither myself, if . . . ." 
■ (the doctor set his teeth) . . . • " if I were not such 
an eccentric fellow. Only this is what amazes me 
— how you, with your intelligence, can fail to see 
what is going on around you." 

" But what is going on? "—I interposed, prick- 
ing up my ears. 

The doctor looked at me with a sort of sneer- 
ing compassion. 

"A nice person I am,"— said he, as though 
speaking to himself.— " What possessed me to 
say that to him. In a word,"— he added, raising 
his voice,— " I repeat to you: the atmosphere 
here is not good for you. You find it pleasant 
here, and no wonder! And the scent of a hot- 
house is pleasant also— but one cannot live in 
it! Hey! hearken to me,— set to work again on 

The old Princess entered and began to com- 
plain to the doctor of toothache. Then Zinaida 
made her appearance. 

" Here,"— added the old Princess,— " scold 
her, doctor, do. She drinks iced water all day 
long; is that healthy for her, with her weak 

" Why do you do that? "—inquired Liishin. 

" But what result can it have? " 

" What result? You may take cold and die." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


"Really? Is it possible? Well,) all right- 
that just suits me! " 

"You don't say so!"— growled the doctor. 
The old Princess went away. 
\ " I do say so,"— retorted Zinaida.— " Is living 
such a cheerful thing? Look about you. . . Well 
—is it nice? Or do you think that I do not under- 
stand it, do not feel it? It aifords me pleasure to 
drink iced water, and you can seriously assure me 
f that such a life is worth too much for me to im- 
peril it for a moment's pleasure— I do not speak 
of happiness/' 

" Well, yes,"— remarked Lushin: — " caprice 

and independence Those two words sum you 

up completely; yoiu* whole nature lies in those 
two words." 

Zinaida biu*st into a nervous laugh. 

" You 're too late by one mail, my dear doctor. 
You observe badly; you are falling behind.— Put 
on your spectacles.— I am in no mood for ca- 
prices now; how jolly to play pranks on you or 

on myself !— and as for independence M'sieu 

Voldemar,"— added Zinaida, suddenly stamping 
her foot,— "don't wear a melancholy face. I 
cannot endure to have people commiserating me." 
—She hastily withdrew. 

" This atmosphere is injurious, injurious to 
you, young man,"— said Lushin to me once more. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



On the evening of that same day the customary 
\asitors assembled at the Zasyekins' ; I was among 
the nmnber. 

The conversation turned on Maidanoif 's poem; 
Zinaida candidly praised it,—" But do you know 
what?"— she said:—" If I were a poet, I would 
select other subjects. Perhaps this is all non- 
sense, but strange thoughts sometimes come into 
my head, especially when I am wakeful toward 
morning, when the sky is beginning to turn pink 
and grey.— I would, for example .... You will 
not laugh at me? " 

" No! No! "—we all exclaimed with one voice. 

" I would depict,"— she went on, crossing her 
arms on her breast, and turning her eyes aside,— 
" a whole company of young girls, by night, in a 
big boat, on a tranquil river. The moon is shin- 
ing, and they are all in white and wear garlands 
of white flowers, and they are singing, you know, 
something in the nature of a hymn." 

" I understand, I understand, go on,"— said 
Maidanoff significantly and dreamily. 

" Suddenly there is a noise— laughter, torches, 
tambourines on the shore. ... It is a throng of 
bacchantes running with songs and outcries. It is 
your business to draw the picture, Mr. Poet .... 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


only I would like to have the torches ired and very 
smoky, and that the eyes of the bacchantes should 
gleam beneath their wreaths, and that the wreaths 
should be dark. Don't forget also tiger-skins and 
cups— and gold, a great deal of gold." 

" But where is the gold to be? " inquired Mai- 
danoff , tossing back his lank hair and inflating his 

"Where? On the shoulders, the hands, the 
feet, everywhere. They say that in ancient times 
women wore golden rings on their ankles.— The 
bacchantes call the young girls in the boat to 
come to them. The girls have ceased to chant 
their hymn,— they cannot go on with it,— but they 
do not stir; the river drifts them to the shore. 
And now suddenly one of them rises quietly. . . . 
This must be well described: how she rises quietly 
in the moonlight, and how startled her compan- 
ions are. . . . She has stepped over the edge of 
the boat, the bacchantes have surrounded her, 
X they have dashed off into the night, into the 
gloom. . . . Present at this point smoke in clouds ; 
and everything has become thoroughly confused. 
Nothing is to be heaopd but their whimpering, and 
her wreath has been left lying on the shore." 

Zinaida ceased speaking. " Oh, she is in lovel " 
— I thought again. 

" Is that all? "—asked Maidanoff. 

" That is all,"— she replied. 

" That cannot be made the subject of an entire 


Digitized by Cj^OQ IC 


poem,"— he/ remarked pompously,— " but I will 
utilise your idea for some lyrical verses." 

" In the romantic vein? "—asked Malej;; 

" Of coiu-se, in the romantic vein— ip Byron's 

" But in my opinion, Hugo is better than By- 
ron,"— remarked the young Count, carelessly:— 
" he is more interesting." 

" Hugo is a writer of the first class,"— rejoined 
Maidanojff, " and my friend Tonkosheeif , in his 
Spanish romance, ' El Trovador '...." 

" Ah, that 's the book with the question-marks 
turned upside down? "—interrupted Zinaida. 

" Yes. That is the accepted custom among the 
Spaniards. I was about to say that Tonko- 
sh^eff " 

" Come now ! You will begin to wrangle again 
about classicism and romanticism," — Zinaida in- 
terrupted him again.—" Let us rather play . . . ." 

" At forfeits? "—put in Liishin. 
, " No, forfeits is tiresome; but at comparisons." 
/ (This game had been invented by Zinaida her- 
i self; some object was named, and each person 
\tried to compare it with something or other, and 
the one who matched the thing with the best com- 
parison received a prize.) She went to the win- 
dow. The sun had just set; long, crimson clouds 
]iung high aloft in the sky. 

; " What are those 'clouds like? "—inquired Zi- . 
jbaida and, without waiting for our answers, she 


# ' Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



said:—" I think that they resemble those crimson 
sails which were on Cleopatra's golden ship, when 
she went to meet Antony. You were telling me 
about that not long ago, do you remember, Mai- 
danoff ? " 

All of us, like Polonius in " Hamlet," decided 
that the clouds reminded us precisely of those 
sails, and that none of us could find a better com- 

" And how old was Antony at that time? " — 
asked Zinaida. 

"He was assiu-edly still a young man,*'— re- 
marked Malevsky. 

"Yes, he was young,"— assented Maidanoff 

"Excuse me,"— exclaimed Lushin,— "he was 
over forty years of age." 

" Over forty years of age,"— repeated Zinaida, 
darting a swift glance at him. . . . 

I soon went home.—" She is in love," my lips 
whispered involuntarily. ..." But with whom? 



The days passed by. Zinaida grew more and 
more strange, more and more incomprehensible. 
One day I entered her house and found her sitting 
on a straw-bottomed chair, with her head pressed 
against the sharp edge of a table. She straJght- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ened up ... . her face was again all bathed in 

"Ah I It's you!"— she said, with a harsh 
grimace.—" Come hither." 

I went up to her : she laid her hand on my head 
and, suddenly seizing me by the hair, began to 
pull it. 

" It hurts "... I said at last. 

"Ah! It hiu-ts! And doesn't it hurt me? 
Does n't it hurt me? "—she repeated. 

"Ai!" — she suddenly cried, perceiving that 
she had pulled out a small tuft of my hair.— 
" What have I done? Poor M'sieu Voldemar! " 
She carefully straightened out the hairs she had 
plucked out, wound them round her finger, and 
twisted them into a ring. 

" I will put your hair in my locket and wear 
it," — she said, and tears glistened in her eyes. — 
" Perhaps that will comfort you a little .... but 
now, good-bye." 

I returned home and found an unpleasant state 
of things there. A scene was in progress between 
my father and my mother; she was upbraiding 
him for something or other, while he, according to 
his wont, was maintaining a cold, polite silence — 
and speedily went away. I coidd not hear what 
my mother was talking about, neither did I care 
to know: I remember only, that, at the conclu- 
sion of the scene, she ordered me to be called to 
her boudoir, and expressed herself with great dis- 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


satisfaction about my frequent visits at the house 
of the old Princess, who was, according to her as- 
sertions, t^r^ femme capable de tout. I kissed her 
hand (I always did that when I wanted to put an 
end to the conversation) , and went oif to my own 
room. Zinaida's tears^ had completely discom- 
fited me; I positively did not know what to 
think, and was ready to cry myself: I was still a 
child, in spite of my sixteen years. I thought no 
more of Malevsky, although Byelovzoroif be- 
came more and more menacing every day, and 
glared at the shifty Count like a wolf at a sheep ; 
but I was not thinking of anything or of any- 
body. I lost myself in conjectiu'es and kept seek- 
ing isolated spots. I took a special fancy to the 
ruins of the hothouse. I could clamber up on the 
high wall, seat myself, arid sit there such an un- 
happy, lonely, and sad youth that I felt sorry for 
myself —and how delightful those mournful sen- 
sations were, how I gloated over them! . . . 

One day, I was sitting thus on the wall, gazing 
off into the distance and listening to the chiming 
of the bells .... when suddenly something ran 
over me— not a breeze exactly, not a shiver, but 
something resembling a breath, the consciousness 
of some one's proximity. ... I dropped my eyes. 
Below me, in a light grey gown, with, a pink para- 
sol on her shoulder, Zinaida was walking hastily 
along the road. She saw me, halted, and, pushing 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


up the brim of her straw hat, raised her velvety 
eyes to mine. 

" What are you doing there, on such a height? " 
— she asked me, with a strange sort of smile. — 
" There now,"— she went on,—" you are always 
declaring that you love me— jump down to me 
here on the road if you really do love me.'' 

Before the words were well oiit of Zinaida's 
mouth I had flown down, exactly as though some 
one had given me a push from behind. The wall 
was about two fathoms high. I landed on the 
ground with my feet, but the shock was so violent 
that I could not retain my balance; I fell, and 
lost consciousness for a moment. When I came 
to myself I felt, without opening nay eyes, that 
Zinaida was by my side.—" My dear boy,"— she 
was saying, as she bent over me— and tender anxi- 
ety was audible in her voice—" how couldst thou 
do that, how couldst thou obey? .... I love thee 
• . . • nsc 

Her breast was heaving beside me, her hands 
were touching my head, and suddenly— what were 
my sensations then!— her soft, fresh lips began 
to cover my whole face with kisses .... they 
touched my lips. ... But at this point Zinaida 
probably divined from the expression of my face 
that I had already recovered consciousness, al- 
though I still did not open my eyes— and swiftly 
rising to her feet, she said:—" Come, get up, you 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


rogue, you foolish fellow! Why do you lie there 
in the dust? "—I got up. 

"Give me my parasol,"— said Zinaida.— "I 
have thrown it somewhere; and don't look at me 

like that what nonsense is this? You are 

hurt? You have burned yoiu-self with the nettles, 
I suppose. Don't look at me like that, I tell 
you. . . . Why, he understands nothing, he doesn't 
answer me,"— she added, as though speaking to 
herself. ..." Go home, M'sieu Voldemar, brush 
yourself oif , and don't dare to follow me— if you 
do I shall be very angry, and I shall never 
again . . . ." 

She did not finish her speech and walked briskly 
away, while I sat down by the roadside . . . my 
legs would hot support me. The nettles had 
stung my hands, my back ached, and my head was 
reeling; but the sensation of beatitude which I 
then experienced has never since been repeated in 
my life. It hung like a sweet pain in all my limbs 
and broke out at last in raptiu*ous leaps and ex- 
clamations. As a matter of fact, I was still a 


I WAS SO happy and proud all that day; I pre- 
served so vividly on my visage the feeling of Zi- 
naida's kisses; I recalled her every word with such 
ecstasy; I so cherished my unexpected happiness 
that I even became frightened; I did not even 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


wish to see her who was the cause of those new 
sensations. It seemed to me that I could ask / 
nothing more of Fate, that now I must " take ; 
and draw a deep breath for the last time, and} 
die." On the other hand, when I set off for the | 
wing next day, I felt a great agitation, which I 
vainly endeavoured to conceal beneath the dis- 
creet facial ease suitable for a man who wishes to 
let it be understood that he knows how to keep a 
secret. Zinaida received me very simply, without 
any emotion, merely shaking her finger at me and 
asking: Had I any bruises? All my discreet ease 
of manner and mysteriousness instantly disap- 
peared, and along with them my agitation. Of 
course I had not expected anything in particular, 
but Zinaida's composiu'e acted on me like a dash 
of cold water. I understood that I was a child in 1 <\ 
her eyes— and my heart waxed very heavy! Zi- ' 
naida paced to and fro in the room, smiling 
swiftly every time she glanced at me; but her 

thoughts were far away, I saw that clearly 

" Shall I allude to what happened yesterday my- 
self,"— I thought;— "shall I ask her where she 
was going in such haste, in order to find out, 
definitively? " . . . . but I merely waved my hand 
in despair and sat down in a comer. 

Byelovzoroff entered; I was delighted to see 

" I have not found you a gentle saddle-horse," 
—he began in a surly tone ; — " Freitag vouches 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


to me for one— but I am not convinced. I am 

" Of what are you afraid, allow me to in- 
quire? " asked Zinaida. 

" Of what? Why, you don't know how to ride. 
God forbid that any accident should happen! 
And what has put that freak into your head? " 

" Come, that 's my affair, M'sieu my wild beast. 
In that case, I will ask Piotr Vasfliievitch " . . . . 
(My father was called Piotr Vasilievitch .... I 
was amazed that she should mention his name so 
lightly and freely, exactly as though she were 
kjonvinced of his readiness to serve her.) 

" You don't say so! "—retorted Byelovz6roff. 
— " Is it with him that you wish to ride? " 

" With him or some one else, —that makes no 
difference to you. Only not with you." 

"Not with me,"— said Byelovzoroff.— " As 
you like. What does it matter? I will get you 
the horse." * 

" But see to it that it is not a cow-like beast. I 
warn you in advance that I mean to gallop." 

" Gallop, if you wish. • • . But is it with Malev- 
sky that you are going to ride? " 

" And why should n't I ride with him, warrior? 
Come, quiet down. I '11 take you too. You know 
that for me Malevsky is now— fie! "—She shook 
her head. 

" You say that just to console me,"— growled 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Zinaida narrowed her eyes.—" Does that con- 
sole you? . . oh . . oh . . . oh . . warrior! "—she said 
at last, as though unahle to find any other word.— 
" And would you like to ride with us, M'sieu Vol- 
demar? " 

" I 'm not fond of riding .... in a large party," 
... I muttered, without raising my eyes. 

" You prefer a tite-d-tite? . . . Well, every one 
to his taste,"— she said, with a sigh.—" But go, 
Byelovzoroflf, make an eflfort. I want the horse 
for to-morrow." 

" Yes; but where am 1 to get the money? "— 
interposed the old Princess. 

Zinaida frowned. 

" I am not asking any from you; Byelovzoroff 
will trust me." 

" He wiD, he will," .... grumbled the old Prin- 
cess—and suddenly screamed at the top of her 
voice:—" Dunyashka! " 

^^ Maman, I made you a present of a bell,"— re- 
marked the young Princess. 

" Dunyashka! "—repeated the old woman. 

Byelovzoroflf bowed himself out; I went out 
with him. Zinaida did not detain me. 


I ROSE early the next morning, cut myself a staff, 
and went off beyond the city barrier. " I '11 have 
a walk and banish my grief,"— I said to myself. 
-- 67 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


It was a beautiful day, brilliant but not too hot ; 
a cheerful, fresh breeze was blowing over the 
earth and rustling and playing moderately, keep- 
ing in constant motion and agitating nothing. 
For a long time I roamed about on the hills and 
in the forests. I did not feel happy; I had left 
home with the intention of sm*rendering myself 
to melancholy;— but youth, the fine weather, the 
fresh air, the diversion of brisk pedestrian exer- 
ercise, the delight of lying in solitude on the thick 
grass, produced their eflfect; the memory of those 
unforgettable words, of those kisses, again thrust 
themselves into my soul. It was pleasant to me 
to think that Zinaida could not, nevertheless, fail 
to do justice to my decision, to my heroism. . . . 
" Others are better for her than I,"— I thought: 
— " so be it! On the other hand, the others only 
say what they will do, but I have done it! And 
what else am I capable of doing for her? ""— My 
imagination began to ferment. I began to pic- 
ture to myself how I would save her from the 
hands of enemies; how, all bathed in blood, I 
would wrest her out of prison; how I would 
die at her feet. I recalled a picture which hung 
in .our dravraig-room of Malek-Adel carrying 
off Matilda— and thereupon became engrossed 
in the appearance of a big, speckled woodpecker 
which was busily ascending the slender trunk 
of a birch-tree, and uneasily peering out from 
behind it, now on the right, now on the left, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 




like a musician from behind the neck of his 

Then I began to sing: " Not the white snows," 
— and ran off into the romance which was well 
known at that period, " I will await thee when the 
playful breeze " ; then I began to recite aloud 
Ermak's invocation to the stars in Khomyakoff 's 
tragedy; I tried to compose something in a senti- 
mental vein; I even thought out the line where- 
with the whole poem was to conclude: " Oh, Zi- 
naida! Zinalda! "— But it came to nothing. 
Meanwhile, dinner-time was approaching. I de- 
scended into the valley; a narrow, sandy. path 
wound through it and led toward the town. I 
strolled along that path. . . . The dull tramp- 
ling of horses' hoofs resounded behind me. I 
glanced round, involuntarily came to a stand- 
still and pulled off my cap. I beheld my' 
father and Zinaida. They were riding side 
by side. My father was saying something to 
her, bending his whole body toward her, 
and resting his hand on the neck of her horse; 
he was smiling. Zinaida was listening to him in 
silence, with her eyes severely downcast and lips . 
compressed. At first I saw only them; it was 
not until several moments later that Byelovzoroff 
made his appearance from round a turn in the 
valley, dressed in hussar uniform with pelisse, and 
mounted on a foam-flecked black horse. The 
good steed was tossing his head, snorting and cur- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


vetting; the rider was both reining him in and 
spurring him on. I stepped aside. My father 
gathered up his reins and moved away from Zi- 
naida; she slowly raised her eyes to his— and both 
set off at a gallop. . . • Byelovzoroff dashed head- 
long after them with clanking sword. " He is as 
red as a crab/'— I thought,—" and she. . . . Why 
is she so pale? She has been riding the whole 
moming-and yet she is pale? " 

I redoubled my pace and managed to reach 
home just before dinner. My father was already 
sitting, re-dressed, well-washed and fresh, beside 
my mother's arm-chair, and reading aloud to her 
in his even, sonorous voice, the f euilleton of the 
Journal des DSbats; but my mother was listen- 
ing to him inattentively and, on catching sight of 
me, inquired where I had been all day, adding, 
that she did not like to have me prowling about 
God only knew where and God only knew with 
whom. " But I have been walking alone," — I 
was on the point of replying; but I glanced at 
my father and for some reason or other held my 


During the course of the next five or six days I 
hardly saw Zinaida; she gave it out that she was 
ill, which did not, however, prevent the habitual 
visitors from presenting themselves at the wing 
—"to take their turn in attendance,"— as they 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


expressed it;— all except Maidanoff, who imme- 
diately became dispirited as soon as he had no 
opportunity to go into raptures. Byelovzoroff 
sat morosely in a comer, all tightly buttoned up 
and red in the face; on Count Malevsky's delicate 
visage hovered constantly a sort of evil smile; he 
really had fallen into disfavour v\rith Zinaida and 
listened with particular pains to the old Princess, 
and drove with her to the Governor-CJenerars in 
a hired carriage. But this trip proved unsuccess- 
ful and even resulted in an unpleasantness for 
Malevsky : he was reminded of some row with cer- 
tain Puteisk officers, and was compelled, in self- 
justification, to say that he was inexperienced at 
the time. Lushin came twice a day, but did not 
remain long. I was somewhat afraid of him after 
our last explanation and, at the same time, I felt 
a sincere attachment for him. One day he went 
for a stroll with me in the Neskiitchny Park, was 
very good-natured and amiable, imparted to me 
the names and properties of various plants and 
flowers, and suddenly exclaimed— without rhyme 
or reason, as the saying is— as he smote himself on| » 
the brow: " And I, like a fool, thought she was a; ' \ 
coquette! Evidently, it is sweet to sacrifice one's 1 ' \ 
self —for some people! " ' 

"What do you mean to say by that?"— I 

" I don't mean to say anything to you,"— re- 
turned Lushin, abruptly. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Zinaida avoided me; my appearance— I could 
not but perceive the fact— produced an unpleas- 
ant impression on her. She involuntarily turned 
away from me ... . involuntarily; that was 
what was bitter, that was what broke my heart! 
But there was no help for it and I tried to keep 
out of her sight and only stand guard over her 
from a distance, in which I was not always suc- 
cessful. As before, something incomprehensible 
was taking place with her; her face had become 
different— she was altogether a different person. 
I was particularly struck by the change which had 
taken place in her on a certain warm, tranquil 
evening. I was sitting on a low bench under a 
wide-spreading elder-bush; I loved that little 
nook ; the window of Zinaida's chamber was visi- 
ble thence. I was sitting there ; over my head, in 
the darkened foliage, a tiny bird was rmnmaging 
fussily about; a great cat with outstretched back 
had stolen into the garden, and the first beetles 
were booming heavily in the air, which was still 
transparent although no longer light. I sat there 
and stared at the window, and waited to see whe- 
ther some one would not open it: and, in fact, it 
did open, and Zinaida made her appearance in it. 
She wore a white gown, and she herself — her face, 
her shoulders and her hands— was pale to white- 
ness. She remained for a long time motionless, 
and for a long time stared, without moving, 
straight in front of her from beneath her con- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tracted brows. I did not recognise that look in 
her. Then she clasped her hands very, very 
tightly, raised them to her lips, to her forehead— 
and suddenly, unlocking her fingers, pushed 
her hair away from her ears; shook it back and, 
throvmig her head downward from above with a 
certain decisiveness, she shut the window with a 

Two days later she met me in the park. I tried 
to step aside, but she stopped me. 

" Give me your hand,"— she said to me, with 
her former affection.—" It is a long time since 
you and I have had a chat." 

I looked at her; her eyes were beaming softly 
and her face was smiling, as though athwart a 

" Are you still ailing? "—I asked her. 

" No, everything has passed off now,"— she re- 
plied, breaking off a small, red rose.—" I am a 
little tired, but that will pass off also." 

" And will you be once more the same as you 
used to be? "—I queried. 

Zinaida raised the rose to her face, and it 
seemed to me as though the reflection of the bril- 
liant petals fell upon her cheeks.—" Have I 
changed ? " — she asked me. 

" Yes, you have changed,"— I replied in a low 

" I was cold toward you,— I know that,"— be- 
gan Zinafda;— " but you must not pay any heed 


/ Digitized by VjOOQ IC 




to that. . • . I could not do otherwise. . • . 
Come, what 's the use of talking about that? " 

" You do not want me to love you— tha^' 's 
what!" I exclaimed gloomily, with involuntary 

" Yes, love me, but not as before." 

" How then? " 

" Let us be friends,— that is how! "— Zinaida 
allowed me to smell of the rose.—" Listen; I am 
much older than you, you know— I might be your 
aunt, really; well, if not your aunt, then your 
elder sister. While you . . . •" 

" I am a child to you,"— I interrupted her. 

"Well, yes, you are a child, but a dear, good, 
clever child, of whom I am very fond. Do you 
know what? I will appoint you to the post of my 
page from this day forth; and you are not to for- 
get that pages must not be separated from their 
mistress. Here is a token of your new dignity 
for you,"— she added, sticking the rose into the 
button-hole of my round-jacket; " a token of our 
favour toward you." 

" I have received many favours from you in 
the past,"— I murmured. 

" Ah! "—said Zinaida, and darting a sidelong 
glance at me.— "What a memory you have! 
Well? And I am ready now also • . • ." 

And bending toward me, she imprinted on my 
brow a pure, calm kiss. « 

I only stared at her— but she turned away and, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


saying,— " Follow me, my page,"— walked to 
the wing. I followed her— and was in a con- 
stant state of bewilderment.—" Is it possible,"— 
I thought,—" that this gentle, sensible yomig girl 
is that same Zinalda whom I used to know? "— ^ j 
And her very walk seemed to me more quiet, her * ( 
whole figure more majestic, more graceful. . • . i ; 
1^ And, my God! with what fresh violence did 
I love flame up within mel I 


After dinner the visitors were assembled again 
in the wing, and the young Princess came out to 
them. The whole company was present, in full 
force, as oiTtEiBrt first evening, never to be f orgot- 

^ten T)y me: even Nirmatzky had dragged himself 
thither. Maidanoff had arrived earlier than all 
the rest; he had brought some new verses. The 
game of forfeits began again, but this time with- 
out the strange sallies, without pranks and up- 
roar; the gipsy element had vanished. Zinaida 
gave a new mood to our gathering. I sat beside 
her, as a page should. Among other things, she 
proposed that the one whose forfeit was drawn 
dbould narrate his dream; but this was not a suc- 
cess. The dreams turned out to be either unin- 
teresting (Byelovzoroff had dreamed that he had 

* fed his horse on carp, and that it had a wooden 
head), or unnatural, fictitious. Maidanoff re- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


galed us with a complete novel; there were sepul- 
chres and angels with harps, and burning lights 
and sounds wafted from afar. Zinaida did not 
allow him to finish. " If it is a question of inven- 
tion,"— said she,—" then let each one relate some- 
thing which is positively made up." — Byelov- 
zoroff had to speak first. 

The young hussar became confused.—" I can- 
not invent anything! "—he exclaimed. 

"What nonsense!" — interposed Zinaida. — 
" Come, imagine, for instance, that you are mar- 
ried, and tell us how you would pass the time 
with your wife. Would you lock her up? " 

" I would." 

" And would you sit with her yourself? " 

" I certainly would sit with her myself." 

" Very good. Well, and what if that bored 
her, and she betrayed you? " 

"I would kill her." 

" Just so. Well, now supposing that I were 
your wife, what would you do then? " 

Byelovzoroff made no answer for a while. — " I 
would kill myself . . . ." 

Zinaida burst out laughing.— "I see that 
there 's not much to be got out of you." 

The second forfeit fell to Zinaida's share. She 
raised her eyes to the ceiling and meditated. — 
" See here,"— she began at last,—" this is what I 
have devised. . . . Imagine to yourselves a mag- 
nificent palace, a summer night, and a marvellous 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ball. This ball is given by the young Queen. 
Everywhere there are gold, marble, silk, lights, 
diamonds, flowers, the smoke of incense— all the 
whims of luxury." 

" Do you love luxury? " — interrupted Liishin. 

"Luxury is beautiful,"— she returned;- "I 
love everything that is beautiful." 

" More than what is fine? "—he asked. 

" That is diflBcult; somehow I don't understand. 
Don't bother me. So then, there is a magnificent 
Jball. There are many guests, they are all young, 
very handsome, brave; all are desperately in love 
with the Queen." 

" Are there no women among the guests? "— 
inquired Malevsky. 

" No— or stay— yes, there are." 

" Also very handsome? " 

" Charming. But the men are all in love with 
the Queen. She is tall and slender; she wears a 
small gold diadem on her black hair." 

I looked at Zinaida— and at that moment she 
seemed so far above us, her white forehead and 
her impassive eyebrows exhaled so much clear in- 
telligence and such sovereignty, that I said to my- 
self : " Thou thyself art that Queen! " 

"All throng around her,"— pursued Zinaida; 
— " all lavish the most flattering speeches on her." 

" And is she fond of flattery? "—asked Liishin. 

"How intolerable! He is continually inter- 
rupting. . . Who does not like flattery? " 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" One more final question,"— remarked Malev- 
sky:— " Has the Queen a husband? " 

" I have not thought about that. No, why- 
should she have a husband? " 

" Of course,"— assented Malevsky;— " why 
should she have a husband? " 

"Silence! "—exclaimed, in English, Maida- 
noflf, who spoke French badly. 

''Merci/'— said Zinaida to him.—" So then, 
the Queen listens to those speeches, listens to the 
music, but does not look at a single one of the 
guests. Six windows are open from top to bot- 
tom, from ceiling to floor, and behind them are 
the dark sky with great stars and the dark garden 
with huge trees. The Queen gazes into the gar- 
den. There, near the trees is a fountain: it gleams 
white athwart the gloom— long, as long as a 
spectre. The Queen hears the quiet plashing of 
its waters in the midst of the conversation and the 
music. She gazes and thinks: * All of you gen- 
tlemen are noble, clever, wealthy; you are all 
ready to die at my feet, I rule over you; .... 
but yonder, by the side of the fountain, by the 
side of that plashing water, there is standing and 
waiting for me the man whom I love, who rules 
over me. He wears no rich garments, nor pre- 
cious jewels; no one knows him; but he is waiting 
for me, and is convinced that I shall come — and 
I shall come, and there is no power in existence 
which can stop me when I wish to go to him and 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



remain with him and lose myself with him yonder, 
in the gloom of the park, beneath the rustling of 
the trees, beneath the plashing of the foun- 
tain . . • / " 

Zinaida ceased speaking. 

" Is that an invention? "—asked Malevsky 

Zinaida did not even glance at him. 

"But what should we do, gentlemen,"— sud- 
denly spoke up Lushin,— " if we were among the 
guests and knew about that luckv man by the 
fountain? " *^ 

"Stay, stay,"— interposed Zinaida:— "I my- 
self will tell you what each one of you would do. 
You, Byelovzoroff, would challenge him to a 
duel; you, Maid^noff, would write an epigram on 
him. . . . But no— you do not know how to 
write epigrams; you would compose a long iambic 
poem on him, after the style of Barbier, and 
would insert your production in the Telegraph. 
You, Nirmdtzky, would borrow from him .... 
no, you would lend him money on interest; you, 
doctor . . . ." She paused. ..." I really do 
not know about you,— what you would do." 

" In my capacity of Court-physician," replied 
Lushin, " I would advise the Queen not to give 
balls when she did not feel in the mood for 
guests • . . •" 

; " Perhaps you would be in the right. And you. 
Count? " 

\^' Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



"And I?"— repeated Malevsky, with an evil 

"And you would offer him some poisoned 

Malevsky's face writhed a little and assumed 
for a moment a Jewish expression; but he imme- 
diately burst into a guffaw. 

"As for you, M'sieu Voldemar " 

went on Zinaida,— " but enough of this; let us 
play at some other game." 

/ " M'sieu Voldemar, in his capacity of page to 
j the Queen, would hold up her train when she ran 
/ off into the park,"— remarked Malevsky vi- 
; ciously. 

I flared up, but Zinaida swiftly laid her hand 
on my shoulder and rising, said in a slightly 
tremulous voice: — "I have never given Your 
Radiance the right to be insolent, and therefore 
I beg that you will withdraw."— She pointed him 
to the door. 

"Have mercy. Princess,"— mumbled Malev- 
sky, turning pale all over. 

" The Princess is right,"— exclaimed Byelov- 
zoroff , rising to his feet also. 

" By God! I never in the least expected this," 
—went on Malevsky:—" I think there was noth- 
ing in my words which .... I had no intention of 
offending you. . . . Forgive me." i 

Zinaida surveyed him with a cold glance, and 
smiled coldly.—" Remain, if you like,"— she saidj, 

80 } 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


with a careless wave of her hand.—" M'sieu 
Voldemar and I have taken offence without 
cause. You find it merry to jest. ... I wish you 

" Forgive me,"— repeated Malevsky once 
more; and I, recalling Zinaida's movement, 
thought again that a real queen could not have 
ordered an insolent man out of the room with 
more majesty. 

The game of forfeits did not continue long 
after this little scene; all felt somewhat awkward, 
not so much in consequence of the scene itself as 
from another, not entirely defined, but oppressive 
sensation. No one alluded to it, but each one was 
conscious of its existence within himself and in his 
neighbour. Maidanoff recited to us all his poems 
—and Malevsky lauded them with exaggerated 

" How hard he is trying to appear amiable 
now,"— Lushin whispered to me. 

We soon dispersed. Zinaida had suddenly 
grown pensive; the old Princess sent word that 
she had a headache; Nirmatzky began to com- 
plain of his rheumatism. • • . 

For a long time I could not get to sleep; Zi- 
naida's narrative had impressed me.—" Is it pos- 
sible that it contains a hint? "—I asked myself: 
— " and at whom was she hinting? And if there 
really is some one to hint about .... what must 
I decide to do? No, no, it cannot be,"— I whis- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


pered, turning over from one burning cheek to 
the other. . . . But I called to mind the expres- 
sion of Zinaida's face during her narration. ... I 
called to mind the exclamation which had broken 
from Liishin in the Neskiitchny Park, the sudden 
changes in her treatment of me — and lost myself 
in conjectures. " Who is he? " Those three words 
seemed to stand in front of my eyes, outlined in 
the darkness; a low-lying, ominous cloud seemed 
to be hanging over me— and I felt its pressure— 
and waited every moment for it to burst. I had 
grown used to many things of late; I had seen 
many things at the Zasyekins'; their disorderli- 
ness, tallow candle-ends, broken knives and forks, 
gloomy Vonif aty, the shabby maids, the man- 
ners of the old Princess herself,— all that strange 
life no longer surprised me. . . . But to that 
which I now dimly felt in Zinaida I could not get 
used . . . . " An adventuress,"— my mother had 
one day said concerning her. An adventuress- 
she, my idol, my divinity I That appellation 
seared me; I tried to escape from it by burrowing 
into my pillow; I raged— and at the same time, 
to what would not I have agreed, what would not 
I have given, if only I might be that happy mor- 
tal by the fountain I . . . 

My blood grew hot and seethed within me. 
"A garden .... a fountain," ... I thought. 
..." I will go into the garden." I dressed my- 
self quickly and slipped out of the house. Thq 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


night was dark, the trees were barely whispering; 
a quiet chill was descending from the sky, an 
odour of fennel was wafted from the vegetable- 
garden. I made the round of all the alleys; the 
light sound of my footsteps both disconcerted me 
and gave me courage; I halted, waiting and lis- 
tening to hear how my heart was beating quickly 
and violently. At last I approached the fence and 
leaned against a slender post. All at once— or 
was it only my imagination?— a woman's figure 
flitted past a few paces distant from me. ... I 
strained my eyes intently on the darkness; I held 
my breath. What was this? Was it footsteps 
that I heard or was it the thumping of my heart 
again?—" Who is here? "—I stammered in barely 
audible tones. What was that again? A sup- 
pressed laugh? .... or a rustling in the leaves? 
.... or a sigh close to my very ear? I was terri- 
fied. . . . "Who is here? "—I repeated, in a still 
lower voice. 

The breeze began to flutter for a moment; a 
fiery band flashed across the sky ; a star shot down. 
— " Is it Zinaida? ''—I tried to ask, but the sound 
died on my lips. And suddenly everything be- 
came profoundly silent all around, as often hap- ' 
pens in the middle of the night. • . . Even the 
katydids ceased to shrill in the trees; only a win- 
dow rattled somewhere. I stood and stood, then 
returned to my chamber, to my cold bed. I felt 
a strange agitation — exactly as though I had 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


gone to a tryst, and had remained alone, and had 
passed by some one else's happiness. 


The next day I caught only a glimpse of Zi- 
naida; she drove away somewhere with the old 
Princess in a hired carriage. On the other hand, 
I saw Liishin— who, however, barely deigned to 
bestow a greeting on me— and Malevsky. The 
yomig Count grinned and entered into conversa- 
tion with me in friendly wise. Among all the 
visitors to the wing he alone had managed to ef- 
fect an entrance to our house, and my mother had 
taken a fancy to him. My father did not favour 
him and treated him pohtely to the point of insult. 

"Ah, monsieur le page/^—hegan Malevsky, 
—"I am very glad to meet you. What is your 
beauteous queen doing? " 

His fresh, handsome face was so repulsive to 
me at that moment, and he looked at me with such 
a scornfully-playful stare, that I made him no 
answer whatsoever. 

" Are you still in a bad humour? "—he went on. 
— " There is no occasion for it. It was not I, you 
know, who called you a page; and pages are 
chiefly with queens. But permit me to observe to 
you that you are fulfilling your duties badly." 

" How so? " 

^' Pages ought to be inseparable from their sov- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ereigns; pages ought to know everything that, 
they do; they ought even to watch over them," — 
he added, lowering his voice,—" day and night." \ 

" What do you mean by that? " 1 

" What do I mean? I think I have expressed 
myself plainly. Day— and night. It does not 
matter so much about the day; by day it is 
light and there are people about; but by night 
— that 's exactly the time to expect a catastrophe. ^ 
I advise you not to sleep o' nights and to watch^ ' 
watch with all your might. Remember— in a gar-]\ 
den, by night, near the fountain— that 's where^. 
you must keep guard. You wiQ thank me for( 
this." ; 

Malevsky laughed and turned his back on me. j 
He did not, in all probability, attribute fttiy^ 
special importance to what he had said to me; he 
bore the reputation of being a capital hand at 
mystification, and was renowned for his cleverness 
in fooling people at the masquerades, in which 
that almost unconscious disposition to lie, where- 
with his whole being was permeated, greatly 
aided him. . . . He had merely wished to tease 
me; but every word of his trickled like poison 
through all my veins.— The blood flew to my 
head. ' ' 

"Ahl so that's it!"— I said to myself:— 
"good! So it was not for nothing that I felt 
drawn to the garden! That shall not be! " I ex- • 
claimed, smiting myself on the breast with my 


, Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



fist; although I really did not know what it was 
that I was determined not to permit.—" Whether 
Malevsky himself comes into the garden," — I 
thought (perhaps he had blurted out a secret; he 
was insolent enough for that),— "or some one 
else,"— (the fence of our vegetable-garden was 
very low and it cost no effort to climb over it) — 
" at any rate, it will be all the worse for the person 
whom I catch! I would not advise any one to en- 
counter me I I '11 show the whole world and her, 
the traitress,''— (I actually called her a traitress) 
— " that I know how to avenge myself I " 

I returned to my own room, took out of my 
writing-table a recently purchased English knife, 
felt of the sharp blade, and, knitting my brows, 
thrust it into my pocket with a cold and concen- 
trated decision, exactly as though it was nothing 
remarkable for me to do such deeds, and this was 
not the first occasion. My heart swelled angrily 
within me and grew stony; I did not unbend my 
brows until nightfall and did not relax my lips, 
and kept striding back and forth, clutching the 
knife which had grown warm in my pocket, and 
preparing myself in advance for something ter- 
rible. These new, unprecedented emotions so en- 
grossed and even cheered me, that I thought very 
little about Zinaida herself. There kept con- 
stantly flitting through my head Aleko, the 
young gipsy:*— "Where art thou going, haT^- 

* In Pdshkin's poem, " The Gipsies." —Trakslatoe. ^* 
86 ' 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC j 

I i 


some youth?— Lie down . • . ." and then: 
" Thou 'rt all with blood bespattered I .... Oh, 
what is 't that thou hast done? . . . Nothing! " 
With what a harsh smile I repeated that: that 

My father was not at home; but my mother, 
who for some time past had been in a state of al- 
most constant, dull irritation, noticed my baleful 
aspect at supper, and said to me:— "What art 
thou sulking at, like a mouse at groats?''— I 
merely smiled patronisingly at her by way of re- 
ply and thought to myself: " If they only knew! '' 
— The clock struck eleven; I went to my own 
room but did not undress ; I was .waiting fox mid- 
night; at last it struck.—" 'T is time! "—I hissed 
between my teeth, and buttoning my coat to the 
throat and even turning up my sleeves I betook 
myself to the garden. 

I had selected a place beforehand where I 
meant to stand on guard. At the end of the gar- 
den, at the spot where the fence, which separated 
our property from the Zasyekins', abutted on the 
party-wall, grew a solitary spruce-tree. Stand- 
ing beneath its low, thick branches, I could see 
well, as far as the nocturnal gloom permitted, all 
that went on around; there also meandered a path 
which always seemed to me mysterious; like a ser- 
pent it wound under the fence, which at that 
point bore traces of clambering feet, and led to 
an arbour of dense acacias. I reached the spruce- 


, Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tree, leaned against its trunk and began my 

The night was as tranquil as the preceding one 
had been; but there were fewer storm-clouds in 
the sky, and the outlines of the bushes, even of the 
tall flowers, were more plainly discernible. The 
first moments of waiting were wearisome, almost 
terrible. I had made up my mind to everything ; 
I was merely corLsideiing how I ought to act. 
Ought I to .ttiixn4eJ?--^t: "Who goes there? 
Halt! Confess— or die!"— or simply smite. . . 
Every sound, every noise and rustling seemed to 
me significant, unusual .... I made ready .... 
I bent forward. .... But half an hour, an hour, 
elapsed; my blood quieted down and turned cold; 
the consciousness that I was doing all this in vain, 
that I was even somewhat ridiculous, that Malev- 
sky had been making fun of me, began to steal 
into my soul. I abandoned my ambush and made 
the round of the entire garden. As though ex- 
pressly, not the slightest sound was to be heard 
anywhere; everything was at rest; even our dog 
was asleep, curled up in a ball at the gate. I 
climbed up on the ruin of the hothouse, beheld 
before me the distant plain, recalled my meeting 
with Zinaida, and became immersed in medita- 

I started .... I thought I heard the creak of 
an opening door, then the light crackling of a 
broken twig. In two bounds I had descended 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC \ 


from the ruin— and stood petrified on the spot. 
Swift, light but cautious footsteps were plainly 
audible in the garden. They were coming toward 
ine. " Here he is. . . . Here he is, at last! " — 
darted through my heart. I convulsively jerked 
the knife out of my pocket, convulsively opened 
it— red sparks whirled before my eyes, the hair 
stood up on my head with fright and wrath. ... 
The steps were coming straight toward me— I 
bent over, and went to meet them. ... A man 
made his appearance. . . . My God I It was my 

I recognised him instantly, although he was all 
enveloped in a dark cloak,— and had pulled his ; 
hat down over his face. He went past me on tip- : 
toe. He did not notice me although nothing con- ' 
cealed me; but I had so contracted myself and 1 
shrunk together that I think I must have been on • 
a level with the ground. The jealous Othello, i 
prepared to murder, had suddenly been converted 
into the school-boy. ... I was so frightened by \ 
the unexpected apparition of my father that I did 
not even take note, at first, in what direction he 
was going and where he had disappeared. I 
merely straightened up at the moment and 
thought: " Why is my father walking in the gar- 
den by night? "—when everything around had re- 
lapsed into silence. In my alarm I had dropped 
my knife in the grass, but I did not even try to 
find it; I felt very much ashamed. I became so- 

■ Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


bered on the instant. But as I wended my way 
home, I stepped up to my little bench under the 
elder-bush and east a glance at the little window 
of Zinaida's chamber. The small, somewhat 
curved panes of the little window gleamed didly 
blue in the faint light which fell from the night 
sky. Suddenly their coloiu' began to undergo a 
change. . . . Behind them— I saw it, saw it 
clearly,— a whitish shade was lowered, descended 
to the sill,— and there remained motionless. 

" What is the meaning of that? "—I said aloud, 
almost involuntarily, when I again found myself 

J in my own room.—" Was it a dream, an accident, 
or .... " The surmises which suddenly came 

; into my head were so new and strange that I 

; iared not even yield to them. 


I ROSE in the morning with a headache. My agi- 
tation of the night before had vanished. It had 
been replaced by an oppressive perplexity and a 
certain, hitherto unknown sadness,— exactly as 
though something had died in me. 

" What makes you look like a rabbit which has 
had half of its brain removed? "—said Lushin, 
who happened to meet me. At breakfast I kept 
casting covert glances now at my father, now at 
my mother; he was calm, as usual; she, as usual, 
was secretly irritated. I waited to see whetfestt, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


my father would address me in a friendly way, as 
he sometimes did. . . . But he did not even ca- 
ress me with his cold, everyday affection.— - 
" Shall I tell Zinaida all? "—I thought. . . . 
" For it makes no difference now— everything is 
over between us." I went to her, but I not only 
did not tell her anything,— I did not even get a ; 
chance to talk to her as I would have liked. The ' 
old Princess's son, a cadet aged twelve, had come 
from Petersburg to spend his vacation with her; 
Zinaida immediately confided her brother to me. 
— " Here, my dear Volodya,'*— said she (she 
called me so for the first time) , " is a conu*ade for 
you. His name is Volodya also. Pray, like him; 
he 's a wild little fellow still, but he has a good 
heart. Show him Neskutchny Park, walk with 
him, take him under your protection. You will 
do that, will you not? You, too, are such a good 
fellow I "—She laid both hands affectionately on 
my shoulder— and I was reduced to utter confu- 
sion. The arrival of that boy turned me into a 
boy. I stared in silence at the cadet, who riveted 
his eyes in corresponding silence on me. Zinaida 
burst out laughing and pushed us toward each 
other.— " Come, embrace, childreni"— We em- 
braced.—" I '11 take you into the garden if you 
wish,— shall I? "—I asked the cadet. 

" Certainly, sir,"— he replied, in a hoarse, 
genuine cadet voice. Again Zinaida indulged in 
a burst of laughter. ... I managed to notice 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


that never before had she had such channing col- 
our m her face. The cadet and I went off to- 
gether. In our garden stood an old swing. I 
seated him on the thin little board and began to 
swing him. He sat motionless in his new little 
uniform of thick cloth with broad gold galloon, 
and clung tightly to the ropes. 

" You had better unhook your collar,"— I said 
to him. 

" Never mind, sir,* we are used to it, sir,''— he 
said, and cleared his throat. 

He resembled his sister; his eyes were particu- 
larly suggestive of her. It was pleasant to me to 
be of service to him; and, at the same time, that 
aching pain kept quietly gnawing at my heart. 
"Now I really am a child," I 'thought; "but 
last night . ..." I remembered where I had 
dropped my knife and found it. The cadet asked 
me to lend it to him, plucked a thick stalk of 
lovage, cut a whistle from it, and began to pipe. 
^Othello piped also. 

I But in the evening, on the other hand, how he 
did weep, that same Othello, over Zinaida's hands 
when, having sought him out in a corner of the 
garden, she asked him what made him so melan- 
choly. My tears streamed with such violence that 
she was frightened.—" What is the matter with 
you? What is the matter with you, Volodya? '* 

* The respectful " s," which is an abbreviation of " sir " cnr 
•• madam.*' —Translator. 


Digitizetf^by VjOOQIC 


— she kept repeating, and seeing that I made her 
no reply, she took it into her head to kiss my wet 
cheek. But I turned away from her and whis- 
pered through my sobs:— "I know everything; 
why have you trifled with nieTTTTT'Why didj 
you want my love? " 

" I am to blame toward you, Volodya "... 
said Zinaida.— " Akh, I am very much to blame " ^ 

she said, and clenched her hands.— 

" How much evil, dark, sinful, there is in mel . . . 
But I am itot trifling with you now, I love you— 
you do not suspect why and how. . . . But what 
is it you know?" 

What could I say to her? She stood before me 
and gazed at me— and I belonged to her wholly, 
from head to foot, as soon as she looked at me. 
... A quarter of an hour later I was running a 
race with the cadet and Zinaida; I was not weep- 
ing; I was laughing, although my swollen eyelids 
dropped tears from laughing; on my neck, in 
place of a tie, was bound a ribbon of Zinaida's, 
and I shouted with joy when I succeeded in seiz- 
ing her round the waist. She did with me whatso- 
ever she would. 


I SHOULD be hard put to it, if I were made to nar- 
rate in detail all that went on within me in the 
course of the week which followed my unsuccess- 


;' Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


fill nocturnal expedition. It was a strange, 
feverish time, a sort of chaos in which the most 
opposite emotions, thoughts, suspicions, hopes, 
joys, and sufferings revolved in a whirlwind; I 
was afraid to look into myself, if a sixteen- 
year-old can look into himself; I was afraid to ac- 
count to myself for anything whatsoever; I sim- 
ply made haste to live through the day until the 
evening; on the other hand, at night I slept . . . 
fchildish giddiness helped me. I did not want to 
know whether I was beloved, and would not ad- 
mit to myself that I was not beloved; I shunned 
my father— but could not shun Zinaida. ... I 
burned as with fire in her presence, .... but 
what was the use of my knowing what sort of fire 
it was wherewith I burned and melted— seeing 
that it was sweet to me to burn and melt! I sur- 
rendered myself entirely to my impressions, and 
dealt artfully with myself, turned away from my 
memories and shut my eyes to that of which I had 
a presentiment in the future. . . . This anguish 
probably would not have continued long ... a 
thunder-clap put an instantaneous end to every- 
thing and hurled me into a new course. 
• On returning home one day to dinner from a 
rather long walk, I learned with surprise that I 
was to dine alone; that my father had gone away, 
while my mother was ill, did not wish to dine 
and had shut herself up in her bedroom. From 
the footmen's faces I divined that sometb^'ncp jj^j^j. 


Digitized by 



usual had taken place. ... I dared not interro- 
gate them, but I had a friend, the young butler 
Philipp, who was passionately fond of poetry and 
an artist on the guitar; I applied to him. From 
him I learned that a frightful scene had taken 
place between my father and mother (for in the 
maids' room everything was audible, to the last 
word; a great deal had been said in French, but 
the maid Masha had lived for five years with a 
dressmaker from Paris and understood it all) ; 
that my mother had accused my father of infi- 
delity^ of being intimate with the young lady 
our neighbour; that my father had first defended 
himself, then had flared up and in his turn had 
made some harsh remark " seemingly about her 
age," which had set my mother to crying; that my j 
mother had also referred to a note of hand, which i 
appeared to have been given to the old Princess, ! 
and expressed herself very vilely about her, and ( 
about the young lady as well ; and that then my f 
father had threatened her.— "And the whole 
trouble arose,"— pursued Philipp, "out of an 
anonymous letter; but who wrote it no one knows ; 
otherwise there was no reason why this affair 
should have come out." 

"But has there been anjrthing? "— I enun- 
ciated with difficulty, while my hands and feet 
turned cold, and something began to quiver in the 
very depths of my breast. 

Phitipp winked significantly.—" There has. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


You can't conceal such doings, cautious as your 
papa has been in this case;— still, what possessed 
him, for example, to hire a carriage, or to ... . 
for you can't get along without people there 

I dismissed Philipp, and flung myself down on 

i my bed. I did not sob, I did not give myself up 

: to despair; I did not ask myself when and how all 
this had taken place ;^ I was not surprised. that_ 
l^had not guessed it sooner, long before— I did 

I not even murmur against my father. . . . That 
which I had learned was beyond my strength; this 

■ sudden discovery had crushed me. . . . All was 
over. All my flowers had been plucked up at one 

iiblow and lay strewn around me, scattered and 


; trampled under foot. 



On the following day my mother announced that 
she was going to remove to town. My father went 
into her bedroom in the morning and sat there 
a long time alone with her. No one heard what 
he said to her, but my mother did not weep any 
more; she calmed down and asked for something 
to eat, but did not show hfersglf and did not alter 
her intention. I remember that I wandered about 
all day long, but did not go into the garden and 
did not glance even once at the wing— and^in the 


Digitized by CiQOQIC 


evening I was the witness of an amazing occur- 
rence; my father took Comit Malevsky by the 
arm and led him out of the hall into the anteroom 
and, in the presence of a lackey, said coldly to 
him: " Several days ago Your Radiance was 
shown the door in a certain house. I shall not 
enter into explanations with you now, but I have 
the honour to inform you that if you come to my 
house again I shall fling you through the window. 
I don't like your handwriting." The Count ! 
bowed, set his teeth, shrank together, and disap- 

Preparations began for removing to town, on 
the Arbat,* where our house was situated. Prob- 
ably my father himself no longer cared to re- 
main in the villa; but it was evident that he had 
succeeded in persuading my mother not to make 
a row. Everything was done quietly,^ without 
haste; my mother even sent her compliments to 
the old Princess and expressed her regret that, 
owing to ill-health, she would be imable to see 
her before her departure. I prowled about like 
a crazy person, and desired but one thing, — that 
everything might come to an end as speedily as 
possible. One thought never quitted my head: 
how could she, a young girl,— well, and a prin- 
cess into the bargain,— bring herself to such a 
step, knowing that my father was not a free man ' 
while she had the possibility of marrying Bye- 1 

1 A square in Moscow.— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 




lovzoroff at least, for example? What had she 

''hoped for? How was it that she had not been 

j afraid to ruin her whole future?— " Yes,"— I 

' thought,—" that 's what love is,— that is passion, 

■ —that is devotion," . . . and I recalled Liishin's 

! words to me: " Self-sacrifice is sweet— for some 

i people." Once I happened to catch sight of a 

white spot in one of the windows of the wing. . . . 

" Can that be Zinafda's face? "—I thought; . . . 

and it really was her face. I could not hold out. 

I could not part from her without bidding her a 

last farewell. I seized a convenient moment and 

betook myself to the wing. 

In the drawing-room the old Princess received 
me with her customary, slovenly-careless greet- 

" What has made your folks uneasy so early, 
my dear fellow? "—she said, stuflBng snuff up 
both her nostrils. I looked at her, and a weight 
was removed from my heart. The word " note 
of hand " uttered by Philipp tormented me. She 
suspected nothing .... so it seemed to me then, 
at fSftstr Zinaida made her appearance from the 
adjoining room in a black gown, pale, with hair 
out of curl; she silently took me by the hand and 
led me away to her room. 

" I heard your voice,"— she began,—" and 
came out at once. And did you find it so easy to 
desert us, naughty boy? " 

" I have come to take leave of you, Princess," 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


— I replied,—" probably forever. You may have 
heard we are going away." 

Zinafda gazed intently at me. 

" Yes, I have heard. Thank you for coming. 
I was beginning to think that I should not see 
you.— Think kindly of me. I have sometimes 
tormented you; but nevertheless I am not the sort 
of person you think I am.'* 

She turned away and leaned against the win- 

" Really, I am not that sort of person. I know 
that you have a bad opinion of me." 


" Yes, you .... you." 

"I?"— I repeated sorrowfully, and my heart 
began to quiver as of old, beneath the influence of 
the irresistible, inexpressible witchery. — " I ? Be- 
lieve me, Zinaida Alexandrovna, whatever you 
may have done, however you may have tormented 
me, I shall love and adore you until the end of my^ 
hfe." \ 

She turned swiftly toward me and opening her 
arms widely, she clasped my head, and kissed me 
heartily and warmly- God knows whom that 
long, farewell kiss was seeking, but I eagerly 
tasted its sweetness. I knew that it would never 
.more be repeated.—" Farewell, farewell 1 " I kept 
saying. . . . 

She wrenched herself away and left the room. 
And I withdrew also. I am imable to describe 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


the feeling with which I retired. I should not 
wish ever to have it repeated; but I should 
consider myself unhappy if I had never experi- 
enced it. 

We removed to town. I did not speedily de- 
tach myself from the past, I did not speedily take 
up my work. My wound healed slowly; but I 
really had no evil feeling toward my father. On 
the contrary, he seemed to have gained in stature 
in my eyes .... let the psychologists explain 
this contradiction as best they may. One day I 
was walking along the boulevard when, to my in- 
describable joy, I encountered Liishin. I liked 
him for his straightforward, sincere character; 
and, moreover, he was dear to me in virtue of the 
memories which he awakened in me. I rushed at 

" Ahal "—he said, with a scowl.—" Is it you, 
yovmg man? Come, let me have a look at you. 
You are still all sallow, and yet there is not the 
\ olden trash in your eyes. You look like a man, 
not like a lap-dog. That *s good. Well, and how 
are you? Are you working? " 

I heaved a sigh. I did not wish to lie, and I 
was ashamed to tell the truth. 

"Well, never mind,"— went on Liishin,— 
" don't be afraid. The principal thing is to live 
in normal fashion and not to yield to impulses. 
Otherwise, where 's the good? No matter whither 
the wave bears one— 't is bad; let a man stand on 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


a stone if need be, but on his own feet. Here I 
am croaking .... but Byelovzoroff — have you 
heard about him? '* 

" What about him? No." ; 

" He has disappeared without leaving a trace; 
they say he has gone to the Caucasus. A lesson ; 
to you, young man. And the whole thing arises 
from not knowing how to say good-bye,— to 
break bonds in time. You, now, seem to have 
jumped out successfully. Look out, don't fall 
in again. Farewell." 

" I shall not fall in,"— I thought. ..." I 
shall see her no more." But I was fated to see 
^inaida once more. 


My father was in the habit of riding on Horseback 
every day; he had a splendid red-roan English 
horse, with a long, slender neck and long legs, 
indefatigable and vicious. Its name was Elec- 
tric. No one could ride it except my father. 
One day he came to me in a kindly frame of mind, 
which had not happened with him for a long time : 
he was preparing to ride, and had donned his 
spurs. I began to entreat him to take me with 


" Let us, rather, play at leap-frog,"— replied 

my father,—" for thou wilt not be able to keep up 

with me on thy cob." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Yes, I shall; I will put on spurs also." 

" Well, come along." 

We set out. I had a shaggy, hlack little horse, 
strong on its feet and fairly spirited; it had to 
gallop with all its might, it is true, when Electric 
was going at a full trot; but nevertheless I did 
not fall behind. I have never seen such a horse- 
man as my father. His seat was so fine and so 
carelessly-adroit that the horse under him seemed 
to be conscious of it and to take pride in it. We 
rode the whole length of all the boulevards, 
reached the Maidens' Field,* leaped over several 
enclosures (at first I was afraid to leap, but my 
father despised timid people, and I ceased to h^ 
afraid) ^, crossed the Moscow river twice;— and 
I was beginning to think that we were on our way 
homeward, the more so as my father remarked 
that my horse was tired, when suddenly he turned 
away from me in the direction of the Crimean 
Ford, and galloped along the shore.— I dashed 
after him. When he came on a level with a lofty 
pile of old beams which lay heaped together, he 
sprang nimbly from Electric, ordered me to 
alight and, handing me the bridle of his horse, 
told me to wait for him on that spot, near the 
beams ; then he turned into a narrow alley and dis- 

^ A great plain situated on the outskirts of the town. So called 
because (says tradition) it was here that annually were assembled the 
young girls who were sent, in addition to the money tribute, to the 
Khan, during the Tatfo period, in the thirteenth and fourteenth cen- 
turies. —Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


appeared. I began to pace back and forth along 
the shore, leading the horses after me and scold- 
ing Electric, who as he walked kept incessantly 
twitching his head, shaking himself, snorting and 
neighing; when I stood still, he alternately- 
pawed the earth with his hoof, and squealed and 
bit my cob on the neck; in a word, behaved like 
a spoiled darling, pur sang. My father did not 
return. A disagreeable humidity was wafted 
from the river; a fine rain set in and mottled the 
stupid, grey beams, around which I was hovering 
and of which I was so heartily tired, with tiny, 
dark spots. Anxiety took possession of me, but 
still my father did not come. A Finnish sentry, 
also all grey, with a huge, old-fashioned shako, in 
the form of a pot, on his head, and armed with a 
halberd (why should there be a sentry, I thought, 
on the shores of the Moscow river?), approached 
me, and turning his elderly, wrinkled face to me, 
he said: 

" What are you doing here with those horses, 
my little gentleman? Hand them over to me; 
I 'U hold them." 

I did not answer him; he asked me for some 
tobacco. In order to rid myself of him (more- 
over, I was tortured by impatience), I advanced 
a few paces in the direction in which my father 
had retreated; then I walked through the alley 
to the very end, turned a comer, and came to a 
standstill. On the street, forty paces distant from 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


me, in front of the open window of a small 
wooden house, with his back to me, stood my 
father; he was leaning his breast on the window- 
sill, while in the house, half concealed by the cur- 
tain, sat a woman in a dark gown talking with my 
father: the woman was Zinaida. 

I stood rooted to the spot in amazement. I 
must confess that I had in nowise expected this. 
My first impulse was to flee. " My father will 
glance round," I thought,—" and then I am lost." 
.... But a strange feeling— a feeling more pow- 
erful than curiosity, more powerful even than 
jealousy, more powerful than fear,— stopped me. 
I began to stare, I tried to hear. My father ap- 
peared to be insisting upon something. Zinaida 
would not consent. I seem to see her face now — 
sad, serious, beautiful, and with an indescribable 
imprint of adoration, grief, love, and a sort of de- 
spair. She uttered monosyllabic words, did not 
raise her eyes, and only smiled— submissively and 
obstinately. From that smile alone I recognised 
my former Zinaida. My father shrugged his 
shoulders, and set his hat straight on his head — 
which was always a sign of impatience with him. 
. . . Then the words became audible: ^' Vous devez 
vous sSparer de cettef' .... Zinaida drew her- 
self up and stretched out her hand Sud- 
denly, before my very eyes, an incredible thing 
came to pass:— all at once, my father raised the \ 
riding-whip, with which he had been lashing the 



dust from his coat-tails,— and the sound of a \ 

sharp blow on that arm, whiqh was bare toJhe ■ 

elbow, rang out. I could hardly keep J^mp 
shrieking, but Zinaida started, gazed in silence at ■ 
my father, and slowly raising her arm to her lips, | 
kissed the mark which glowed scarlet upon it. j 

My father hurled his riding-whip from him, i 
and running hastily up the steps of the porch, i 
burst into the house. . . . Zinaida turned round, . ^ 
and stretching out her arms, and throwing back 
her head, she also quitted the window. j 

My heart swooning with terror, and with a sort 
of alarmed perplexity, I darted backward; and 
dashing through the alley, and almost letting go 
of Electric, I returned to the bank of the river. . . 
I could understand nothing. I knew that my cold 
and self-contained father was sometimes seized 
by fits of wild fury; and yet I could not in the 
least comprehend what I had seen. . . . But I 
immediately felt that no matter how long I might • 
live, it would be impossible for me ever to forget 
that movement, Zinaida's glance and smile; that 
her image, that new image which had suddenly 
been presented to me, had forever imprinted itself 
on my memory. I stared stupidly at the river and - 
ffid not notice that my tears were flowing. " She 
is being beaten,"— I thought. ..." She is being 
beaten .... beaten . . . ." 

" Come, what ails thee?— Give me my horse! " 
— rang out my father's voice behind me. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


I mechanically gave him the bridle. He 
sprang upon Electric .... the half -frozen 
horse reared on his hind legs and leaped forward 
half a fathom .... but my father speedily got 
him under control; he dug his spurs into his 
flanks and beat him on the neck with his fist. . . . 
" Ekh, I have no whip,"— he muttered. 

I remembered the recent swish through the air 
and the blow of that same whip, and shuddered. 

" What hast thou done with it? "—I asked my 
father, after waiting a little. 

My father did not answer me and galloped on. 
I dashed after him. I was determined to get a 
look at his face. 

"Didst thou get bored in my absence?''— he 
said through his teeth. 

" A little. But where didst thou drop thy 
whip? "—I asked him again. 

My father shot a swift glance at me.—" I did 
not drop it,"— he said,—" I threw it away."— He 
reflected for a space and dropped his head .... 
and then, for the first and probably for the last 
time, I saw how much tenderness and compunc- 
tion his stem features were capable of express- 

He set off again at a gallop, and this time I 
could not keep up with him; I reached home a 
quarter of an hour after him. 

" That 's what love is,"— I said to myself 
again, as I sat at night before my writing-table, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

^ r 


on which copy-books and text-books had abeady 
begun to make their appearance,—" that is what 
passion is 1 .... JIow is it possible not to revolt, ^ 
how is it possible to endure a blow from any one 
^bmsoever .... even from thi5 hand that is | 
most dear? But evidently itxsaa be dime if ooe \ 
IS in love. . . . And I . . u . I imagined . . . ." 
"''The last month had agfed-Tne^greatly, and my 
love, with all its agitations and sufferings, seemed 
to me like something very petty and childish and 
wretched in comparison with that other unknown 
something at which I could hardly even guess, 
and which frightened me like a strange, beauti- | 
ful but menacing face that one strives, in vain, 
toget-a good look at in the semi-darkness. . . . 
^ That pight I had a strange and dreadful 
ptt^I thought I was entering a low, dark 
room My father was standing there, rid- 
ing-whip in hand, and stamping his feet; Zinaida 
was crouching in one comer and had a red mark, 
not on her arm, but on her forehead .... and 
behind the two rose up Byelovzoroff, all bathed 
in blood, with his pale hps open, and wrathf uUy 
menacing my father. 

Two months later I entered the university, and 
six months afterward my father died (of an apo- 
plectic stroke) in Petersburg, whither he had just 
removed with my mother and myself. A few 
days before his death my father had received a 
letter from Moscow which had agitated him ex- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tremely. . . . He went to beg something of my 
mother and, I was told, even wept,— he, my fa- 
ther 1 On the very morning of the day on which 
he had the stroke, he had begmi a letter to me in 
the French language: "My son,"— he wrote to 
me,—" fear the love of women, fear that happi- 
ness, that poison . . . ." After his death my mo- 
ther sent a very considerable simi of money to 


FouE years passed. I had but just left the uni- 
versity, and did not yet quite know what to do with 
myself, at what door to knock; in the meanwhile, 
I was lounging about without occupation. One 
fine evening I encountered Maidanoff in the 
theatre. He had contrived to marry and enter the 
government service ; but I found him unchanged. 
He went into unnecessary raptures, just as of 
old, and became low-spirited as suddenly as ever. 

" You know,"— he said to me,—" by the way, 
that Madame Dolsky is here.** 

" WTiat Madame Dolsky? '' 

" Is it possible that you have forgotten? The 
former Princess Zasyekin, with whom we were 
all in love, you included. At the villa, near Nes- 
kutchny Park, you remember? " 

" Did she marry Dolsky? ** 

" Yes." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" And is she here in the theatre? *' 

"No, in Petersburg; she arrived here a few. 
days ago; she is preparing to go abroad. 

"What sort of a man is her husband?" — I 

" A very fine young fellow and wealthy. He 's 
my comrade in the service, a Moscow man. You 
understand— after that scandal .... you must 
be well acquainted with all that . . . ." (Mai- 
ddnoff smiled significantly) , " it was not easy for j 
her to find a husband; there were consequences j 
.... but with her brains everything is possible. 1 
iGrO to her; she will be delighted to see you. She 
is handsomer than ever." 

Maiddnofi^ gave me Zinaida's address. She 
was stopping in the Hotel Demuth. Old memo- 
ries began to stir in me. ... I promised myself 
that I would call upon my former " passion '^the 
next day. But certain afi^airs turned up; a week 
elapsed, and when, at last, I betook my^self to the 
Hotel Demuth and inquired for Madame Dolsky 
I learned that she had died four days previously, 
almost suddenly, in childbirth. 

Something seemed to deal me a blow in the 
heart. The thought that I might have seen her 
but had not, and that I should nevezsee her,— that 
bitter thought seized upon m^ with ^11 the force 
of irresistible reproach. /^Dead!"^I repeated, 
staring dully at the do^'-porjter, then quietly 
made my way to the street anS^alked away,with- 


\ Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


\ out knowing whither. The whole past surged up 

^ i at one blow and stood before me. And now this 
\ > ' was the way it had ended, this was the goal of that 
\ ^ .young, fiery, brilliant life? I thought that— I 

\K pictured to myself those dear features, those eyes, 

i those curls in the narrow box, in the damp, under- 

ground gloom,— right there, not far from me, 
who was still alive, and, perchance, only a few 
I paces from my father. ... I thought all that, 

j I strained my imagination, and yet— 

j From a mouth indifferent I heard the news of death, 

; ' And with indifference did I receive it — 

/ resounded through my soul. O youth, youth! 

. Thou carest for nothing: thou possessest, as it 

were, all the treasures of the universe ; even sor- 

\ row comforts thee, even melancholy becomes thee ; 

} thou are self-confident and audacious; thou say- 

est: "I alone live— behold! "—But the days 

speed on and vanish without a trace and without 

reckoning, and everything vanishes in thee, like 

wax in the sun, like snow. . . . And perchance 

the whole secret of thy charm consi s t s n ot in iJiie^ 

5 power to do everything, but in^4he possibilit y ujfcfL 

' thinking that thou wilt do everyfeing— consists 

precisely in the fact that thou scatterest to the 

winds thy powers which thou hast not understood 

how to employ in any other way,— in the fact that 

each one of us seriously regards himself as a 

prodigal, seriously assumes that he has a right to 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


say: " Oh, what could I not have done, had I not 
wasted my time I " 

And I myself . . . what did I hope for, what 
did I expect, what rich.future did I foresee, when 
I barely accompanied with a single sigh, with 
a single moiunful emotion, the spectre of my 
first love which had arisen for a brief moment? 

And what has come to pass of all for which I 
hoped? Even now, when the shades of evening 
are beginning to close in upon my life, what is 
there that has remained for me fresher, more 
precious than them emoryof that m orning sprin g // 
thunder-storm w hicITsped so swiTtly past? ' 

But I calumniate myself without cause. Even 
then, at that frivolous, youthful epoch, I did not 
i:emaia.deaf to the sorrowful voice which re- 
sponded within me to the triumphant sound! 
which was wafted to me from beyond the grave. \ 
I remember that a few days after I learned of 
Zinaida's death I was present, by my ownJiyre-' Vy 
sistihlfiJoA^ng, at the death-bed of a poor old 
woman who lived in the same house with us. 
Covered with rags, with a sack under her head, 
she died heavily and with difficulty. Her whole 
life had been passed in a bitter struggle with daily 
wantT>she had seen no joy, she had not tasted the 
nonejidof happiness— it seemed as though she 
could not have failed to rejoice at death, at her 
release, her repose. But nevertheless, as long as 
her decrepit body held out, as long as her breast 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


heaved under the icy hand which was/ laid upon it, 
until her last strength deserted her l the old wo- 
man kept crossing herself and whisi^ering:— " O 
Lord, forgive my sins,"— and oaty yi ^the las t 
spark of f*9-ngnousnp.s.s did th^re Tamid»>J£om^r 
eyes the expression of fear and horxatLftt Jierjap- 
; proa ching end . And I remember that there, by 
the bedside of t hat poor old womaiii I -Jleltteiyi- 
fied for l^inaida, And f'elt like prajdng fgrlfer^for 
my father— and for myself. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


SEVERAL years ago I was in Dresden. I 
stopped in the hotel. As I was running 
about the town from early morning until late at 
night, I did not consider it necessary to make ac- 
quaintance with my neighbours; at last, acciden- 
tally, it came to my knowledge that there was a 
sick Russian in the house. I went to him, and 
found a man in the last stage of consumption. 
Dresden was beginning to pall upon me ; I settled 
down with my new acquaintance. It is wearisome 
to sit with an invaUd, but even boredom is agree- 
able sometimes; moreover, my invalid was not de- 
jected, and liked to chat. We endeavoured, in 
every way, to kill time: we played "fool" to- 
gether, we jeered at the doctor. My compatriot 
narrated to that very bald German divers fictions 
about his own condition, which the doctor always 
"had long foreseen"; he mimicked him when he 
was surprised at any unprecedented attack, flung 
his medicine out of the window, and so forth. 

Nevertheless I repeatedly remarked to my 
friend that it would not be a bad idea to send for 
a good physician before it was too late, that his 
malady was not to be jested with, and so forth. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


But Alexyei (my acquaintance's name was Alex- 
yei Petrovitch S***) put me off every time with 
jests about all doctors in general, and his own in 
particular, and at last, one stormy autumn even- 
ing, to my importimate entreaties, he replied with 
such a dejected glance, he shook his head so sadly, 
and smiled so strangely, that I felt a certain sur- 
prise. That same night Alexyei grew worse, and 
on the following day he died. Just before his 
death his customary cheerfulness deserted him: he 
tossed uneasily in the bed, sighed, gazed anx- 
iously about .... grasped my hand, whispered 
with an effort: " 'T is difficult to die, you know," 
.... dropped his head on the pillow, and burst 
into tears. I did not know what to say to him, 
and sat silently beside his bed. But Alexyei 
speedily conquered this last, belated compassion. 
..." Listen," he said to me:—" our doctor will 
come to-day, and will find me dead. .... I can 
imagine his phiz" .... and the dying man 

tried to mimic him He requested me to 

send all his things to Russia, to his relatives, with 
the exception of a small packet, which he pre- 
sented to me as a souvenir. 

This packet contained letters— the letters of a 
young girl to Alexyei and his letters to her. 
There were fifteen of them in all. Alexyei Pe- 
trovitch S*** had known Marya Alexandrovna 
B*** for a long time — from childhood, appar- 
ently. Alexyei Petrovitch had a cousin, and Md- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


rya Alexandrovna had a sister. In earlier years 
they had all lived together, then they had dis- 
persed, and had not met again for a long time; 
then they had accidentally all assembled again in 
the country, in simmier, and had fallen in love— 
Alexyei's cousin with Marya Alexandrovna, and 
Alexyei himself with the latter's sister. Summer 
passed and autumn came; they parted. Alexyei 
being a sensible man, speedily became convinced 
that he was not in the least beloved, and parted 
from his beauty very happily; his cousin corre- 
sponded with Marya Alexandrovna for a couple 
of years longer .... but even he divined, at last, 
that he was deceiving both her and himself in the 
most imconscionable manner, and he also fell 

I should like to tell you a little about Marya 
Alexandrovna, dear reader, but you will learn to 
know her for yourself from her letters. Alexyei 
wrote his first letter to her soon after her defini- 
tive breach with his cousin. He was in Peters- 
burg at the time, suddenly went abroad, fell ill in 
Dresden and died. I have decided to publish his 
correspondence with Marya Alexandrovna, and 
I hope for some indulgence on the part of the 
reader, because these are not love-letters— God 
forbid 1 Love-letters are generally read by two 
persons only (but, on the other hand, a thousand 
times in succession), and are intolerable, if not 
ridiculous, to a third person. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


From Alexyei Petrdvitch to Mdrya 

St, Petersburg, March 7, 1840. 
My dear Marya AlexandrovnaI 

I have never yet written to you a single time, I 
think, and here I am writing now. ... I have 
chosen a strange time, have I not? This is what 
has prompted me to it: Mon cousin Theodore has 
been to see me to-day, and— how shall I say it? 
.... and has informed me, in the strictest pri- 
vacy (he never imparts anything in any other 
way) , that he is in love with the daughter of some 
gentleman here, and this time is bent on marrying 
without fail, and that he has already taken the 
first step— he has explained his intentions! As 
a matter of course, I hastened to congratulate 
him on an event so pleasant for him; he has long 
stood in need of an explanation .... but in- 
wardly I was, I confess, somewhat amazed. Al- 
though I knew that everything was over between 
you, yet it seemed to me .... In a word, I was 
amazed. I was preparing to go out visiting to- 
day, but I have remained at home, and intend to 
have a little chat with you. If you do not care to 
listen to me, throw this letter into the fire imme- 
diately. I declare to you that I wish to be frank, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


although I feel that you have a perfect right to 
take me for a decidedly-intrusive man. Observe, 
however, that I would not have taken pen in hand 
if I had not known that your sister is not with 
you: Theodore told me that she will be away all 
summer visiting your aunt, Madame B***. May 
God grant her all good things! 

So, then, this is the way it has all turned out. . . 
But I shall not offer you my friendship, and so 
forth; in general, I avoid solemn speeches, and 
"intimate " effusions. In beginning to write this 
letter, I have simply obeyed some momentary 
impulse: if any other feeling is hiding within me, 
let it remain hidden from sight for the present. 

Neither shall I attempt to console you. In 
consoling others, people generally desire to rid 
themselves, as speedily as possible, of the un- 
pleasant feeling of involuntary, self -conceited 

compassion I understand sincere, warm 

sympathy .... but such sympathy is not to be 
got from every one. . . . Please be angry with 
me. . . If you are angry, you will probably read 
my epistle to the end. 

But what right have I to write to you, to talk 
about my friendship, my feelings, about consola- 
tion? None whatever— positively, none what- 
ever; and I am bound to admit that, and I rely 
solely upon your kindness. 

Do you know what the beginning of my letter 
resembles? This : a certain Mr. N. N. entered the 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


drawing-room of a lady who was not in the least 
expecting him,— who, perhaps, was expecting 
another man. . . . He divined that he had come 
at the wrong time, but there was nothing to be 
done. . . . He sat down, and began to talk .... 
G!od knows what about: poetry, the beauties of 
nature, the advantages of a good education .... 
in a word, he talked the most frightful nonsense. 
. . . But in the meanwhile the first five minutes 
had elapsed; he sat on; the lady resigned herself 
to her fate, and lol Mr. N. N. recovered himself, 
sighed, and began to converse — to the best of his 

But, despite all this idle chatter, I feel some- 
what awkward, nevertheless. I seem to see be- 
fore me your perplexed, even somewhat angry 
face: I feel conscious that it is almost impos- 
sible for you not to assume that I have some se- 
cret intentions or other, and therefore, having 
perpetrated a piece of folly, like a Roman I wrap 
myself in my toga and await in silence your 
ultimate condenmation. . . • 

But, in particular: Will you permit me to con- 
tinue to write to you? 

I remain sincerely and cordially your devoted 

AliEXYEI S***. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


From Mdrya Alexdndrovna to AleayyH 

Village of • • . • no, March 22, 1840. 

Deab Sib I 
Alexyei Petrovitch! 

I have received your letter, and really, I do not 
know what to say to you. I would even not have 
answered you at all had it not seemed to me that 
beneath your jests was concealed a decidedly- 
friendly sentiment. Your letter has produced an 
unpleasant impression on me. In reply to your 
" idle chatter," as you put it, permit me also to 
propound to you one question: To what end? 
What have you to do with me, what have I to do 
with you? I do not assume any evil intentions on 
your part, .... on the contrary, I am grateful 
to you for your sympathy, .... but we are 
strangers to each other, and I now, at all events, 
feel not the slightest desire to become intimate 
with any one whomsoever. 

With sincere respects I remain, and so forth, 

Maeya B***. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



From AlexyH Petrdvitch to Mdrya 

St. Petersburg, March 80. 

I thank you, Mdrya Alexdndrovna, I thank 
you for your note, curt as it is. All this time I 
have been in a state of great agitation; twenty 
times a day I have thought of you and of my let- 
ter. You can imagine how caustically I have 
laughed at myself; but now I am in a capital 
frame of mind, and am patting myself on the 
head. Marya Alexandrovna, I am entering into 
correspondence with you! Confess that you 
could not possibly have expected that after your 
reply; I am amazed at my own audacity • . • . 
never mind I But calm yourself: I want to 
talk to you not about myself, but about you. 
Here, do you see: I find it imperatively necessary 
—to speak in antiquated style — to express my- 
self to some one. I have no right to select you 
for my confidante— I admit that; but hearken: I 
demand from you no reply to my epistles; I do 
not even wish to know whether you will peruse 
my " idle chatter," but do not send me back my 
letters, in the name of all that is holy! 

Listen— I am utterly alone on earth. In my 
youth I led a solitary life, although, I remember, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


I never pretended to be a Byron; but, in the first 
place, circumstances, in the second place, the 
ability to dream and a love for reverie, rather cold 
blood, pride, indolence— in a word, a multitude of 
varied causes alienated me from the society of 
men. The transition from a dreamy to an active 
life was effected in me late . • . perhaps too 
late, perhaps to this day not completely. So long 
as my own thoughts and feelings diverted me, so 
long as I was capable of surrendering myself to 
causeless silent raptures, and so forth, I did not 
complain of my isolation. I had no comrades— I 
did have so-called friends. Sometimes I needed 
their presence as an electrical machine needs a dis- 
charger—that was all. Love .... we will be 
silent on that subject for the present. But now, 
I confess, now loneliness weighs upon me, and 
yet I see no escape from my situation. I do not 
blame Fate; I alone am to blame, and I am justly 
chastised. In my youth one thing alone interested 
me: my charming ego; I took my good-natured 
self-love for shyness; I shunned society, and lo! 
now I am frightfully bored with myself. What 
is to become of me? I love no one ; all my friend- 
ships with other people are, somehow, strained and 
false; and I have no memories, because in all my 
past life, I find nothing except* my own self. 
Save me! I have not made you enthusiastic vows 
of love; I have not deafened you with a torrent 
of chattering speeches; I have passed you by 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


with considerable coldness, and precisely for that 
reason I have made up my mind now to have 
recourse to you. (I had thought of this even 

earlier, but you were not free then ) 

Out of all my self-made joys and sufferings, the 
sole genuine feeling was the small, but involun- 
tary attraction to you, which withered then, like a 
solitary ear of grain amid worthless weeds. . . . 
Allow me, at least, to look into another face, an- 
other soul,— my own face has grown repugnant to 
me; I am like a man who has been condenmed to 
live out his entire life in a room with walls made 
of mirrors. ... I do not demand any confes- 
sions from you— oh, heavens, no! Grant me the 
speechless sympathy of a sister, or at least the 
simple curiosity of a reader— I will interest you, 
really, I will. 

At any rate, I have the honour to be your sin- 
cere friend, . 



From AlexySi Petrdvitch to Mdrya 

Petersburg, April 7th. 

I write agaiA to you, although I foresee that, 

without your approval, I shall speedily hold my 

peace. I must admit that you cannot fail to feel 

a certain distrust of me. What of that ? Perhaps 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


you are right. Formerly I would have declared 
to you (and, probably, would have believed my 
own words) that, since we parted, I had " devel- 
oped," had advanced; with condescending, almost 
affectionate scorn I would have referred to my 
past; with touching boastfulness I would have 
initiated you into the secrets of my present, active 
life . • . . but now, I assure you, Marya Ale- 
xdndrovna, I consider it shameful and disgusting 
to allude to the way in which my vile self-love 
once on a time fermented and amused itself. 
Fear not: I shall not force upon you any great 
truths, any profound views; I have none— none 
of those truths and views. I have become a nice 
fellow,— truly I have. I 'm bored, Marya Ale- 
xdndrovna— so bored that I can endure it no 
longer. That is why I am writing to you. • . . 
Really, it seems to me that we can come to an 


However, I positively am in no condition to 
talk to you until you stretch out your hand to me, 
until I receive from you a note with the one word 
" Yes."— Marya Alexdndrovna, will you hear 
me out?— that is the question. 

Yours truly, 

A- S. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



From Mdrya AUxdndrovna to AleouySi 

Village of ... . no, April 14. 
What a strange man you are I Well, then- 


Maeya B***. 


From Alewyei Petrdvitch to Mdrya 

Petersburg, May 2, 1840. 

Hurrah I Thanks, Marya Alexandrovna, 
thanks! You are a very kind and indulgent 

I begin, according to my promise, to speak of 
myself, and I shall speak with pleasure, verging 
on appetite. . . . Precisely that. One may talk 
of everything in the world with fervour, with rap- 
ture, with enthusiasm, but only of one's self can 
one talk with appetite. 

Listen: an extremely strange incident hap- 
pened to me the other day: I took a glance at my 
past for the first time. You will understand me: 
every one of us frequently recalls the past— with 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


compunction or with vexation, or simply for the 
lack of something to do; but only at a certain age 
can one cast a cold, clear glance at his whole past 
life— as a traveller, turning round, gazes from a 
lofty mountain upon the plain which he has tra- 
versed • . . . and a secret chill grips the heart of 
a man when this happens to him for the first time. 
At any rate, my heart contracted with pain. So 
long as we are young, that sort of looking back- 
ward is impossible. But my youth is over— and, 
like the traveller on the mountain, everything has 
become clearly visible to me. ... 

Yes, my youth is gone, gone irrevocably! . . . 
Here it lies before me, all of it, as though in the 
palm of my hand. ... 

'T is not a cheerful spectacle I I confess to you, 
Marya Alexandrovna, that I am very sorry for 
myself. My God I My God! Is it possible that 
I myself have ruined my own life to such a de- 
gree, have so ruthlessly entangled and tortured 
myself? . . . Now I have come to my senses, but 
it is too late. Have you ever rescued a fly from 
a spider? You have? Do you remember, you 
placed it in the sunshine; its wings, its legs were 
stuck together, glued fast. . . . How awk- 
wardly it moved, how clmnsily it tried to clean 
itself I . . . After long-continued eff^orts, it got 
itself to rights, after a fashion; it crawled, it 
tried to put its wings in order .... but it could 
not walk as it formerly did; it could not buzz, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


care-free, in the sunshine, now flying through an 
open window into a cool room, again fluttering 
freely out into the hot air. ... It, at all events, 
did not fall into the dreadful net of its own free 
will .... but 1 1 

I was my own spider. 

And, nevertheless, I cannot blame myself so 
very much. Yes, and who— tell me, for mercy's 
sake— who ever was to blame for anything— 
alone? Or, to put it more accurately, we are all 
to blame, yet it is impossible to blame us. Cir- 
cumstances settle our fate: they thrust us into this 
road or that, and then they pimish us. Every man 
has his fate. . . . Wait, wait! There occurs to 
my mind on this score an artfully-constructed but 
just comparison. As clouds are first formed by 
the exhalations from the earth, rise up from its 
bosom, then separate themselves from it, withdraw 
from it, and bear over it either blessings or ruin, 
just so around each one of us and from us our- 
selves is formed— how shall I express it?— is 
formed a sort of atmosphere which afterward 
acts destructively or salutarily upon us ourselves. 
This I call Fate. ... In other words, and to 
put it simply: each person makes his own fate, 
and it makes each person. . . . 

Each person makes his own fate— yes! . . . 
but our brethren make it far too much— which 
constitutes our calamity! Consciousness is 
aroused in us too early; too early do we begin to 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


observe ourselves. • . . We Russians have no 
other life-problem than the cultivation of our per- 
sonality, and here we, barely adult children, al- 
ready undertake to cultivate it, this our unhappy 
personality! Without having received from 
within any definite direction, in reality respect- 
ing nothing, believing firmly in nothing, we are 
free to make of ourselves whatsoever we will. 
. • . . But it is impossible to demand of every 
man that he shall immediately comprehend the 
sterility of a mind, " seething in empty activ- 
ity *'•.. . and so, there is one more monster 
in the world, one more of those insignifi- 
cant beings in which the habits of self-love dis- 
tort the very striving after truth, and ridiculous 
ingenuousness lives side by side with pitiful 
guile .... one of those beings to whose impo- 
tent, uneasy thought there remains forever un- 
known either the satisfaction of natural activity, 
or the genuine suffering, or the genuine triumph 
of conviction. . . . Combining in itself the de- 
fects of all ages, we deprive each defect of its 
good, its redeeming side. . . . We are as stupid 
as children, but we are not sincere like them; we 
are as cold as old men, but the common sense of 
old age is not in us. • • On the other hand, we are 
psychologists. Oh, yes, we are great psychologists! 
But our psychology strays off into pathology ; our 
psychology is au artful study of the laws of a dis- 
card condition and a diseased development, with 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


which healthy people have no concern. . . . But 
the chief thing is, we are not young,— in youth 
itself we are not young! 

And yet— why calumniate one's self? Have we 
really never been young? Have the vital forces 
never sparkled, never seethed, never quivered in 
us? Yet we have been in Arcadia, and we have 
roved its bright meads 1 . . . Have you ever hap- 
pened, while strolling among bushes, to hit upon 
those dark-hued harvest-flies, which, springing 
out from under your very feet, suddenly expand 
their bright red wings with a clatter, flutter on a 
few paces, and then tumble into the grass again? 
Just so did our dark youth sometimies expand its 
gaily-coloured little wings for a few moments, 
and a brief flight. . . . Do you remember our 
silent evening rambles, the four of us together, 
along the fence of your park, after some long, 
warm, animated conversation? Do you remem- 
ber those gracious moments? Nature received 
us aff^ectionately and majestically into her lap. 
We entered, with sinking heart, into some sort of 
blissful waves. Round about the glow of sunset 
kindled with sudden and tender crimson; from 
the crimsoning sky, from the illuminated earth, 
from everywhere, it seemed as though the fresh 
and fiery breath of youth were wafted abroad, 
and the joyous triumph of some immortal happi- 
ness; the sunset glow blazed; like it, softly and 
passionately blazed our enraptured hearts, and 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


the tiny leaves of the young trees quivered sen- 
sitively and confusedly above us, as though re- 
plying to the inward tremulousness of the indis- 
tinct feelings and anticipations within us. Do 
you remember that purity, that kindness and 
trustfulness of ideas, that emotion of noble hopes, 
that silence of plenitude? Can it be that we were 
not then worthy of something better than that 
to which life has conducted us? Why have we 
been fated only at rare intervals to catch sight 
of the longed-for shore, and never to stand 
thereon with firm foothold, never to touch it— 

Not to weep sweetly, like the first of the Jews 
On the borders of the Promised Land ? 

These two lines of Fet ^ have reminded me of 
others,— also by him. . . . Do you remember 
how one day, as we were standing in the road, we 
beheld in the distance a cloud of rosy dust, raised 
by a light breeze, against the setting sun? " In 
a billowy cloud " you began, and we all fell silent 
on the instant, and set to listening: 

In a billowy cloud 
The dust rises in the distance. . . . 
Whether horseman or pedestrian — 
Cannot be descried for the dust. 

^ Afanftsy Afan^ievitch Sh^nshin (1890-1893) always wrote 
under this name.— Thanslator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


I see some one galloping 
On a spirited steed. . . . 
My friend, my distant friend — 
Remember me ! 

You ceased, . . . All of us fairly shuddered, 
as though the breath of love had flitted over our 
hearts, and each one of us— I am convinced of 
that— longed inexpressibly to flee away in the 
distance, that unknown distance, where the appa- 
rition of bliss rises up and beckons athwart the 
mist. And yet, observe this odd thing: why 
should we reach out into the distance?— we 
thought. Were not we in love with each other? 
Was not happiness " so near, so possible " ? And 
I immediately asked you: "Why have not we 
gained the shore we long for? " Because false- 
hood was walking hand in hand with us; because 
it was poisoning our best sentiments; because 
everything in us was artificial and strained; be- 
cause we did not love each other at all, and only 
tried to love, imagined that we did love 

But enough, enough 1 Why irritate one's 
wounds? Moreover, all that is past irrevocably • 
That which was good in our past has touched me, 
and on this good I bid you farewell for the time 
being. And it is time to end this long letter. I 
will go and inhale the May air here, in which, 
through the winter's stem fortress, the spring is 
forcing its way with a sort of moist and keen 
warmth. Farewell. A. S. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



From Mdrya Alexdndrovna to Alexyei 

Village of • ... no. May 20, 1840. 

I have received your letter, Alexyei Petr6vitch, 
and do you know what feeling it aroused in me? 

— Indignation .... yes, indignation 

and I will immediately explain to you why it 
aroused precisely that feeling in me. One thing 
is a pity: I am not a mistress of the pen— I rarely 
write. I do not know how to express my 
thoughts accurately and in a few words; but you 
will, I hope, come to my aid. You yourself will 
try to understand me: if only for the sake of 
knowing why I am angry with you. 

Tell me— you are a clever man— have you ever 
asked yourself what sort of a creature a Russian 
woman is? What is her fate, her position in 
the world— in short, what her life is like? I do 
not know whether you have ever had time to put 
that question to yourself; I cannot imagine how 
you would answer it. ... I might, in conversa- 
tion, be able to communicate to you my ideas on 
that subject, but I shall hardly manage it on 
paper. However, it makes no difference. This 
is the point: you surely will agree with me that 
we women— at all events, those of us who are not 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


satisfied with the ordinary cares of domestic life 
—receive our final education, all the same, from 
you— from the men: you have a great and pow- 
erful influence on us. Look, now, at what you 
do with us. I shall speak of the yoimg girls, es- 
pecially of those who, like myself, dwell in the 
dull places, and there are many such in Russia^ 
Moreover, I do not know others, and cannot 
judge with regard to them. Figure to yourself 
such a yoimg girl. Here, now, her education is 
finished ; she is beginning to live, to amuse herself. 
But amusement alone is not enough for her. She 
demands a great deal from life ; she reads, dreams 
.... of love.— " Always of love alone!" you 
will say. . . . Let us assume that that word 
means a great deal to her. I will say again that 
I am not talking of the sort of girl who finds it 
burdensome and tiresome to think. . . . She 
looks about her, waits for the coming of him for 

whom her soul pines At last he makes his 

appearance: she is carried away; she is like soft 
wax in his hands. Everything— happiness, and 
love, and thought— everything has invaded her 
together with him, all at once; all her tremors are 
soothed, all her doubts are solved by him; truth 
itself seems to speak by his mouth; she worships 
him, she is ashamed of her happiness, she learns, 
she loves. Great is his power over her at this 
period! .... If he were a hero, he would kindle 
her to flame, he would teach her to sacrifice her- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


self, and all sacrifices would be easy to her I But 
there are no heroes in our day. . . . Neverthe- 
less, he guides her whithersoever he will; she de- 
votes herself to that which interests him, his every 
word sinks into her soul: at that time, she does 
not know, as yet, how insignificant and empty 
and false that word may be, how little it costs 
him who utters it, and how little faith it merits! 
These first moments of bliss and hope are fol- 
lowed, generally— according to circumstances— 
(circumstances are always to blame)— are fol- 
lowed by parting. It is said that there have been 
cases where two kindred souls, on recognising 
each other, have immediately united indissolubly; 
I have heard, also, that they are not always com- 
fortable as a result. • . . But I wiU not speak 
of that which I have not myself beheld— but that 
the very pettiest sort of calculation, the most 
wof ul prudence, may dweU in a young heart side 
by side with the most passionate rapture,— that 
is a fact which, unhappily, I know by my own ex- 
perience. So, then, parting comes. . . . Happy 
is that young girl who instantly recognises that 
the end of all has come, who does not comfort 
herself with expectation! But you brave, just 
men, in the majority of cases, have neither the 
courage nor the desire to tell us the truth .... 
you find it more easy to deceive us. ... I am 
ready to believe, however, that you deceive your- 
selves along with us. . . . Parting! It is both 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


difficult and easy to endure parting. If only 
faith in him whom one loves were intact and imas- 
sailed, the soul would conquer the pain of part- 
ing I will say more: only when she is left 

alone does she learn the sweetness of solitude, not 
sterile but filled with memories and thoughts. 
Only then will she learn to know herself —will she 

come to herself, will she grow strong In the 

letters of the distant friend she will find a support 
for herself; in her own she will, perhaps, for the 
first time, express her mind fully. . . . But as two 
persons who have started from the source of a 
river along its different banks can, at first, clasp 
hands, then hold communication only with the 
voice, but ultimately lose sight of each other: so 
also two beings are ultimately disjoined by sepa- 
ration. "What of that?" you will say: "evidently 
they were not fated to go together. . . ." But 
here comes in the difference between a man and 
a woman. It signifies nothing to a man to begin 
a new life, to shake far from him the past; a 
woman cannot do that. No, she cannot cast aside 
her past, she cannot tear herself away from her 
roots— no, a thousand times no! And so, a piti- 
ful and ridiculous spectacle presents itself. • . . 
Gradually losing hope and faith in herself,— you 
can form no idea of how painful that is, — she 
will pine away and fade alone, obstinately cling- 
ing to her memories, and turning away from 

everything which life around her offers 

And he? ... . Seek him! Where is he? And 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


is it worth while for him to pause? What time 
has he for looking back? All this is a thing of 
the past for him, you see. 

Or here is another thing which happens: it 
sometimes happens that he will suddenly conceive 
a desire to meet the former object of his affec- 
tions, he will even deliberately go to her. . . . But, 
my God! from what a motive of petty vain-glory 
he does it! In his polite compassion, in his coun- 
sels which are intended to be friendly, in his 
condescending explanations of the past, there is 
audible such a consciousness of his own superior- 
ity! It is so agreeable and cheerful a thing for 
him to let himself feel every minute how sensible 
and kind he is! And how little he understands 
what he is doing ! How well he manages not even 
to guess at what is going on in the woman's heart, 
and how insultingly he pities her, if he does guess 
iti . . . 

Tell me, please, whence are we to get the 
strength to endure all this? Remember this, too: 
in the majority of cases, a girl who, to her mis- 
f ortime, has an idea beginning to stir in her head, 
when she begins to love, and falls under the influ- 
ence of a man, involuntarily separates herself 
from her family, from her acquaintances. Even 
previously she has not been satisfied with their 
life, yet she has walked on by their side, preserv- 
ing in her soul all her intimate secrets. . . . But the 
breach speedily makes itself visible. . . • They 
cease to imderstand her, they are ready to suspect 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


every movement of hers. • . . At first she pays 
no heed to this, but afterward, afterward .... 
when she is left alone, when that toward which she 
has been striving and for which she has sacrificed 
everything escapes her grasp, when she has not 
attained to heaven, but when every near thing, 
every possible thing, has retreated far from her 
—what shall uphold her? Sneers, hints, the vul- 
gar triumph of coarse conmion sense she can 
still bear, after a fashion .... but what is she 
to do, to what is she to have recourse, when the 
inward voice begins to whisper to her that all 
those people were right, and that she has been 
mistaken; that life, of whatever sort it may be, 
is better than dreams, as health is better than dis- 
ease .... when her favourite occupations, her 
favourite books,- disgust her, the books from 
which one cannot extract happiness,— what, say 
you,— what shall uphold her? How is she to help 
succimabing in such a struggle? How is she to 
live and to go on living in such a wilderness? 
Confess herself vanquished, and extend her hand 
like a beggar to indifferent people? Will not 
they give her at least some of that happiness with 
which the proud heart once imagined that it could 
dispense— all that is nothing as yet! But to feel 
one's self ridiculous at the very moment when one 
is shedding bitter, bitter tears .... akhl God 
forbid that you should go through that experi- 
ence! .... 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


My hands are trembling, and I am in a fever 
all over. . . • My face is burning hot. It is time 
for me to stop. • . . I shall send off this letter as 
speedily as possible, while I am not ashamed of 
my weakness. But, for God's sake, not a word in 
your reply— do you hear me?— not a word of 
pity, or I will never write to you again. Under- 
stand me: I should not like to have you take this 
letter as the outpouring of a misunderstood soul 
which is making complaint. . . Akh! it is all a 
matter of indifference tome! Farewell. 



'From AlewySi Petrovitch to Mdrya 

St. Petersbueg, May 28, 1840. 
Marya Alexandrovna, you are a fine creature 
.... indeed you are . . . your letter has disclosed to 
me the truth at last I O Lord my God I what tor- 
ture! A man is constantly thinking that now he 
has attained simplicity, no longer shows off, puts 
on airs, or lies .... but when you come to look 
at him more attentively, he has become almost 
worse than he was before. And this must be 
noted: the man himself, alone that is to say, will 
never attain to that consciousness, bestir himself 
as he may! his eye will not discern his own de- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


fects, just as the blunted eye of the printer will 
not detect errors: another, a fresher eye is re- 
quired. I thank you, Marya Alexandrovna. . . . 
You see, I am speaking to you of myself; I dare 
not speak of you. • . . Akh, how ridiculous my 
last letter seems to me now,— so eloquent and sen- 
timental I Go on, I beg of you, with your confes- 
sion; I have a premonition that you will be re- 
lieved thereby, and it will be of great benefit to 
me. Not without cause does the proverb say: "A 
woman's wit is better than many thoughts "; and 
a woman's heart is far more so— God is my wit- 
ness that it is so I If women only knew how much 
better, and more magnanimous, and clever— pre- 
cisely that— clever they are than the men, they 
would grow puffed up with pride, and get 
spoiled: but, fortunately, they do not know that; 
they do not know it because their thoughts have 
not become accustomed to returning incessantly 
to themselves, as have the thoughts of us men. 
.They think little about themselves— that is their 
weakness and their strength; therein lies the 
whole secret— I will not say of our superiority, 
but of our power. They squander their souls, as 
a lavish heir squanders his father's gold, but we 
collect interest from every look. . . . How can 
they enter into rivalry with us? . . . All this is 
not compliments, but the simple truth, demon- 
strated by experience. Again I entreat you, 
Marya Alexandrovna, to continue writing to me* 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


... If you only knew all that comes into my 
mind! . . But now I do not want to talk, I want 
to listen to you. . . . My speech will come later 
on. Write, write. 

Yours truly, 
A. S. 

iFrom Mdrya AUxdndrovna to lAlexyH 

Village of ... . no, June 12, 1840. 

No sooner had I despatched my last letter to 
you, Alexyei Petrovitch, than I repented of it; 
but there was no help for it. One thing somewhat 
soothed me: I am convinced that you have under- 
stood imder the influence of what long-sup- 
pressed feelings it was written, and have forgiven 
me. I did not even read over at the time what I 
had written to you; I remember that my heart 
was beating so violently that my pen trembled in 
my hand. However, although I probably should 
have expressed myself differently if I had given 
myself time to think it over, still I have no inten- 
tion of disclaiming either my words or the feel- 
ings which I have imparted to you to the best of 
my ability. To-day I am much more cool-headed, 
and have far better control over myself. . . . 

I remember that I spoke toward the end of my 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


letter about the painful situation of the young 
girl who recognises the fact that she is isolated 
even among her own people. ... I will not en- 
large further on that point, but rather will I com- 
municate to you a few details ; it seems to me that 
I shall bore you less in that way. 

In the first place, you must know that through- 
out the whole country-side I am not called any- 
thing but " the female philosopher " ; the ladies, 
in particular, allude to me by that name. Some 
assert that I sleep with a Latin book in my 
hands and in spectacles; others, that I know 
how to extract some cubic roots or other: not 
one of them cherishes any doubt that I wear 
masculine attire on the sly, and that instead of 
" good morning," I say abruptly: " Georges 
Sand!"— and indignation against "the female 
philosopher" is on the increase. We have a 
neighbour, a man of five-and-forty, a great wit, 
.... at least, he has the reputation of being a 
great wit, .... and for him my poor person is 
an inexhaustible subject for jeers. He has re- 
lated, concerning me, that as soon as the moon 
rises in the sky, I cannot take my eyes from it, 
and he shows how I look; that I even drink coffee 
not with cream but with the moon, that is to say, 
I set my cup in its rays. He swears that I use 
phrases in the nature of the following: "That 
is easy because it is difficult; although, on the 
other hand, it is difficult because it is easy.'* 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


. . . He declares that I am always seeking some 
word or other, always yearning " thither," and 
he inquires, with comic indignation: "Whither 
is thither? Whither? " He has also set in cir- 
culation about me a rumour to the effect that 
I ride by night on horseback back and forth 
through the ford of the river, singing the while 
Schubert's " Serenade," or simply moaning: 
"Beethoven, Beethoven!" as much as to say— 
" She 's such a fiery old woman! " and so forth, 
and so forth. Of coiu'se, all this immediately 
reaches my ears. Perhaps this may surprise you; 
but do not forget that four years have elapsed 
since you have sojourned in these parts. Re- 
member how every one gazed askance at us 
then. . . . Now their turn has come. And all 
this is nothing. I sometimes happen to hear 
words which pierce my heart much more pain- 
fully. I will not mention the fact that my poor, 
good mother cannot possibly pardon me for your 
cousin's indifference; but all my life runs through 
the fire, as my old nurse expresses it. " Of 
course,"— I hear constantly,— " how are we to 
keep up with thee? We are plain folks, we are 
guided only by conmion sense; but, after all, when 
one comes to think of it, to what have all these 
philosophisings and books and acquaintances 
with learned people brought thee? " Perhaps 
you remember my sister— not the one to whom 
you were formerly not indifferent, but the other, 


Digitized by VjOOQ.IC 


the elder, who is married. Her husband, you will 
remember, is a decidedly-ridiculous man; you 
often used to make fun of him in those days. Yet 
she is happy: the mother of a family, she loves her 
husband, and her husband adores her. ... "I 
am like aU the rest,"— she says to me sometimes; 
— " but how about thee? " And she is right: I 
envy her. ... 

And nevertheless I feel that I should not like 
to change places with her. Let them call me " a 
female philosopher,'" "an eccentric," whatever 
they choose— I shall remain faithful to the end 
.... to what? — to an ideal, pray? Yes, to an 
ideal. Yes, I shall remain faithful to the end to 
that which first made my heart beat, — to that 
which I have acknowledged and do acknowledge 
to be the true, the good. If only my strength 
does not fail me, if only my idol does not prove a 
soulless block. . . . 

If you really do feel friendship for me, if you 
really have not forgotten me, you must help me; 
you must disperse my doubts, strengthen my 
beliefs. ... 

But what aid can you render me? " All this is 
nonsense, like the useless running of a squirrel on 
a wheel," said my uncle to me yesterday— I think 
you do not know him — a retired naval officer, and 
a far from stupid man. "A husband, children, a 
pot of buckwheat groats: to tend husband and 
children, and look after the pot of groats— that *s 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


what a woman needs/' . . . Tell me, he is right, 
is he not? 

If he really is right, I can still repair the past, 
I can still get into the common rut. What else is 
there for me to wait for? What is there to hope 
for? In one of your letters, you spoke of. the 
wings of youth. How often, how long they re- 
main fettered! And then comes a time, when 
they fall off; and it is no longer possible to raise 
one's self above the earth, to soar heavenward. 
Write to me. 

Yours, M. 

From ^Alexyei Petrovitch to Mdrya 

St. Petebsbueg, June 16, 1840. 

I hasten to answer your letter, my dear Marya 
Alexandrovna. I will confess to you that if it 
were not for .... I will not say business— I 
have none— if it were not for my being so stu- 
pidly habituated to this place, I would go again 
to you and would talk my fill, but on paper all 
this comes out so coldly, in such a dead man- 
ner. . . . 

I repeat to you, Mdrya Alexandrovna: women 
are better than men, and you ought to demon- 
strate that in deed. Let us men fling aside our 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


convictions, like a worn-out garment, or barter 
them for a morsel of bread, or, in conclusion, let 
them fall into the sleep which knows no waking, 
and place over them, as over one formerly be- 
loved, a tombstone, to which one goes only now 
and then to pray— let us men do all that; but do 
not you women be false to yourselves, do not be- 
tray your ideal. . . . That word has become ri- 
diculous. ... To be afraid of the ridiculous is 
not to love the truth. It does happen, it is true, 
that a stupid laugh will make the stupid man, 
even good people, renounce a great deal .... 
take for example the defence of an absent friend. 
... I am guilty in that respect myself. But, I 
repeat it, you women are better than we are. . . . 
In trifles you are inclined to yield to us; but you 
understand better than we do how to look the 
devil straight in the eye. I shall give you neither 
aid nor advice— how can I? and you do not need 
it; but I do stretch forth my hand to you, and I 
do say to you: " Have patience; fight until the 
end; and know that, as a feeling, the conscious- 
ness of a battle honourably waged almost tran- 
scends the triumph of victory." .... The vic- 
tory does not depend upon us. 

Of course, from a certain point of view, your 
uncle is right: family life is everything for a wo- 
man; there is no other life for her. 

But what does that prove? Only the Jesuits 
assert that every means is good, if only one at- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tains his end. It is not true! not true! It is an 
indignity to enter a clean temple with feet soiled 
with the mire of the road. At the end of your 
letter there is a phrase which I do not like: you 
want to get into the conmion rut. Look out— do 
not make a misstep! Do not forget, moreover, 
that it is impossible to efface the past; and strive 
as you may, force yourself as you will, you cannot 
make yourself your sister. You have ascended 
above her. But your soul is broken, hers is intact. 
You can lower yourself, bend down to her, but 
nature will not resign her rights, and the broken 
place will not grow together again. ... 

You are afraid— let us speak without circum- 
locution—you are afraid of remaining an old 
maid. I know that you are already twenty-six 
years old. As a matter of fact, the position of 
old maids is not enviable: every one so gladly 
laughs at them; every one notes their oddities and 
their weaknesses with such unmagnanimous de- 
light. But if you scan more closely any elderly 
bachelor,— he deserves to have the finger of scorn 
pointed at him also,— you will find in him cause to 
laugh your fill. What is to be done? Happiness 
is not to be captured by battle. But we must not 
forget that not happiness but human dignity is 
the chief goal of life. 

You describe your position with great humour. 
I well imderstand aU its bitterness; your position 
may, I am sure, be called tragic. But you must 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


know that you are not the only one who finds 
herself in it: there is hardly any man of the pres- 
ent day who does not find himself in it also. You 
will say that that does not make it any the easier 
for you; but what I think is that to suffer in 
company with thousands is quite a different thing 
from suffering alone. It is not a question of ego- 
tism here, but of a feeling of universal necessity. 
" All this is very fine, let us assume," you will 
say, . . . "but, in point of fact, it is not appli- 
cable to the case." Why is it not applicable? Up 
to the present day I think, and I hope that I shall 
never cease to think, that in God's world every- 
thing honest, good, and true is applicable, and 
sooner or later will be fulfilled; and not only will 
be fulfilled, but is already being fulfilled, if each 
one will only hold himself firmly in his place, will 
not lose patience, will not desire the impossible, 
but will act, so far as his strength permits. But 
I think I have given myself up too much to ab- 
stractions. I will defer the continuation of my 
arguments imtil another letter; but I do not wish 
to lay down my pen without having pressed your 
hand warmly, very warmly, and wished you, with 
all my soul, everything that is good on earth. 

Yours, A. S. 

P.S. By the way, you say that you have no- 
thing to look forward to, nothing to hope for; 
how do you know that, allow me to ask? 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



iFrom Mdrya "jAlexdndrovna to "^AlexyH 

Village of ... • no, June 80, 1840. ] 
How grateful I am to you for your letter, 
Alexyei Petroviteh! How much good it has done 
me! I see that you really are a good and trust- 
worthy man, and therefore I shall not dissimu- 
late before you. I trust you. I know that you 
will not make a bad use of my frankness and that 
you will give me friendly advice. That is the 

You noticed at the end of my letter a phrase 
which did not entirely please you. This is what 
it referred to. There is a neighbour here .... 
he was not here in your day, and you have not 
seen him. He ... I might marry him, if I 
wished; he is a man who is still young, cultiu'cd, 
wealthy. There are no obstacles on the side of 
my relatives; on the contrary, they— I know this 
for certain— desire this marriage; he is a fine 
man, and I think he loves me. • . • But he is so 
languid and petty, all his desires are so narrow, 
that I cannot help recognising my superiority 
over him; he feels this, and seems to take delight 
in it, and precisely that repels me from him; I 
cannot respect him, although he has an excellent 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


heart. What am I to do, tell me? Think for me 
and write me your opinion sincerely. 

But how grateful I am to you for your letter! 
• . . Do you know, I have sometimes heen visited 
by such bitter thoughts. . . . Do you know, I 
have gone so far as almost to feel ashamed of 
every— I will not say exalted— but of every 
trustful feeling. 1 have shut my book in vexation 
when it spoke of hope and happiness; I have 
turned away from the cloudless sky, from the 
fresh verdiu'e of the trees, from everything that 
smiled and was glad. What a painful condition 
this was! I say " was "... as though it had 

I do not know whether it has passed; I know 
that if it does not return I shall be indebted to 
you for it. You see, Alexyei Petrovitch, how 
much good you have done, perhaps without your- 
self suspecting it! Now, in the very heart of 
summer, the days are magnificent, the sky is blue, 
bright. ... It cannot be more beautiful in Italy. 
But you are sitting in a stifling and dusty town, 
you are walking on the scorching pavements. 
What possesses you to do it? You ought, at 
least, to remove to a villa somewhere. They say 
that beyond Peterhoff , on the seashore, there are 
charming places. 

I should like to write more to you, but it is im- 
possible: such a sweet perfume has been wafted 
up to me from the garden that I cannot remain 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


in the house. I shall put on my hat and go for a 
stroll. . . . Farewell until another time, kind 
Alexyei Petrovitch. 

Yours truly, 

M. B. 

P.S. I have forgotten to tell you .... just 
imagine: that wit, of whom I recently wrote you, 
—just imagine: he has made me a declaration of 
love, and in the most fiery terms! At first I 
thought that he was making fim of me; but he 
wound up with a formal proposal. What do you 
think of that, after all his calumnies? But he is 
positively too old. Last night, to pique him, I 
sat down at the piano in front of the open window 
in the moonlight, and played Beethoven. It was 
so delightful to me to feel its cold light on my 
face, so consolatory to send forth upon the per- 
fumed night air the noble sounds of music, 
athwart which, at times, the song of the nightin- 
gale was audible! It is a long time since I have 
been so happy, but do you write to me concern- 
ing the thing I asked you about in the beginmng 
of my letter: it is very important. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



From 'jileccyei Petrovitch to Mdrya 

St. Peteesbueg, July 8, 1840. 

My dear Marya Alexandrovna, here is my 
opinion in two words: throw both the old bachelor 
and the young suitor overboard! There 's no use 
in deliberating over this. Neither of them is 
worthy of you— that is as clear as that twice two 
are four. The young neighbour may be a good 
man, but I throw him over! I am convinced that 
you and he have nothing in conmion, and you can 
imagine how cheerful it would be to live together! 
And why be in a- hurry? Is it possible that a 
woman like you— I have no intention of paying 
compliments, and therefore will not enlarge fur- 
ther—that such a woman as you should not 
meet some one who will know how to appre- 
ciate her? No, Marya Alexandrovna; heed me if 
you really think that my advice is beneficial. 

But confess that you found it pleasant to be- 
hold that old calumniator at your feet! ... If 
I had been in your place, I would have made him 
sing Beethoven's "Adelaida** the whole night 
through, staring at the moon the while. 

But God be with them, with your admirers I It 
is not of them that I wish to talk with you to-day. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


I am in a sort of half -irritated, half -agitated con- 
dition to-day, as the result of a letter which I re- 
ceived yesterday. I send you a copy of it. This 
letter was written by one of my very old friends 
and comrades in the service, a kind-hearted but 
rather narrow-minded man. A couple of years 
ago he went abroad, and up to the present he has 
not written to me a single time. Here is his let- 
ter. N.B. He is very far from bad-looking. 

^^ Cher Alescis: 

" I am in Naples. I am sitting in my chamber 
on the Chiaja at the window. The weather is 
wonderful. At first I gazed a long time at the 
sea, then impatience seized upon me, and the bril- 
liant idea of writing a letter to thee occurred to 
me. I have always felt an affection for thee, my 
dear friend,— Heaven is my witness that I have! 
And now I should like to pour myself into thy 
bosom ... I believe that is the way it is ex- 
pressed in our elevated language. And the rea- 
son I have been seized with impatience is that I 
am expecting a woman; together we shall go to 
Baise to eat oysters and oranges, to watch the 
dark-brown shepherds in red nightcaps dance 
the tarantella, to broil ourselves in the sunshine, 
to watch the lizards — in a word, to enjoy life to 
the full. My dear friend, I am so happy that I 
am unable to express it to you. If I possessed thy 
power with the pen, oh, what a picture I would 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


draw before thine eyes! But, unfortunately, as 
thou knowest, I am an illiterate man. The wo- 
man for whom I am waiting, and who has already 
made me constantly start and glance at the door, 
loves me— and as for the way I love her, it seems 
to me that even thou with thy eloquent pen couldst- 
not describe that. 

. " I must tell thee that I have known her for 
the last three months, and ever since the very 
first day of our acquaintance, my love has gone 
on crescendo, in the shape of a chromatic scale, 
ever higher and higher, and at the present mo- 
ment it has already attained to the seventh 
heaven. I am jesting, but, as a matter of fact, 
my attachment to that woman is something ex- 
traordinary, supernatural. Just imagine: I 
hardly ever talk with her, but I stare at her in- 
cessantly and laugh. I sit at her feet, I feel that 
I am frightfully stupid and happy, simply un- 
lawfully happy. It sometimes happens that she 
lays her hand on my head. . . . And then, I 
must tell thee, . . . but thou canst not under- 
stand it; for thou art a philosopher, and have been 
a philosopher all thy life. Her name is Nina, 
Ninetta— as thou wilt; she is the daughter of a 
wealthy merchant here. Beautiful as all thy Ra- 
phaels; lively as powder, blithe, so clever that it is 
positively amazing that she should have fallen in 
love with such a fool as myself; she sings like a 
bird, and her eyes— 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Forgive me, pray, for thiswnvoluntary tirade. 
... I thought the door creaked. . . • No, the 
rogue has not come yet! Thou wilt ask me how 
all this is going to end, and what I mean to do 
with myself, and whether I shall remain here 
long. I know nothing, and wish to know nothing, 
ahout that, my dear fellow. What is to be will 
be. . . . For if one is to pause and reason con- 

" 'Tis she! .... She is running up the stairs 
and singing. . . She has come*. . . Well, good- 
by, my dear fellow. ... I 'm in no mood for 
thee. Pardon me— it is she who has spattered 
this letter aU over: she struck the paper with her 
damp nosegay. At first she thought I was writ- 
ing to a woman; but as soon as she found out that 
it was to a man-friend, she bade me give you her 
compliments, and inquire whether there are any 
flowers in your country, and whether they are 
fragrant. Well, good-by. ... If you could 
only hear how she laughs! . . . Silver rings just 
like that: and what goodness in every sound!— 
One fairly wants to kiss her feet. Let us go, let 
us go! Be not angry at this untidy scrawl, and 
envy thy— 

M . • •" 

The letter actually was bespattered, and ex- 
haled an odour of orange-flowers . . . two white 
petals had adhered to the paper. This letter has 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


excited me. ... I have called to mind my so- 
journ in Naples. . . . The weather was magnifi- 
cent then also; May was only just beginning; I 
had recently completed my twenty-second year; 
but I did not know any Ninetta. I roamed about 
alone, consimied with a thirst for bliss, which was 
both painful and sweet,— sweet to the point where 
it itself bore a sort of resemblance to bliss. . . . 
What a thing it is to be young 1 ... I remember 
I once went out for a row on the bay at night. 
There were two of us: the boatman and I . . . . 
but what was it you thought? What a night it 
was, and what a sky, what stars— how they trem- 
bled and crumbled in the waves! With what a 
liquid flame did the water flow over and flash up 
under the oars, what perfimie was wafted all 
over the sea— it is not for me to describe, how- 
ever " eloquent " my pen may be. A French ship 
of the line lay at anchor in the roadstead. It 
glowed obscurely red all over with lights; long 
streaks of red light, the reflection of the illumi- 
nated windows, stretched across the dark sea. 
Merry music reached me in occasional bursts; I 
recall, in particular, the trill of a small flute amid 
the dull blaring of the horns; it seemed to flutter 
like a butterfly around my boat. I ordered the 
man to row to the ship; twice did we make the 
circuit of it. Women's forms flitted past the wjin- 
dows, borne smartly past on the whirlwind of the 
waltz. ... I ordered the boatman to put off, 



far away, straight out into the darkness. . . I 
remember that the somids pursued me long and 
importunately. ... At last they died away. I 
stood up in the boat and stretched out my arms 
over the sea in the dumb pain of longing. . . . 
Oh, how my heart ached thenl How oppressive 
was my loneliness! With what joy would I have 
given myself at that moment wholly, wholly .... 
wholly, if only there had been any one to whom 
to give myself 1 With what a bitter feeling in 
my soul did I fling myself, face down, in the 
bottom of the boat and, like Repetfloff^, request 
him to take me somewhere or other! 

But my friend here experienced nothing of 
that sort. And why should he? He has managed 
matters much more cleverly than I did. He is liv- 
ing .... while I . . . . not without cause has 

he called me a philosopher 'T is strange! 

You, also, are called a philosopher. . . . Why 
should such a calamity overtake us? ... . 

I am not living. . . . But who is to blame for 
that? Why do I sit here in Petersburg? What 
am I doing here? Why do I kill day after day? 
Why don't I go to the country? Are not oiur 
steppes beautiful? Or cannot one breathe freely 
in them? Or is it stifling in them? What pos- 
sesses me to pursue dreams, when, perchance, 
happiness is within my reach? It is settled: I am 
going away, I am going away to-morrow, if pos- 
sible; I am going home, that is, to you— it is all 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


the same: for we live only twenty versts apart. 
What's the use, after all, in languishing here? 
And why is it that this idea did not occur to me 
earlier? My dear Mdrya Alexandrovna, we shall 
soon meet. But it is remarkable that this, thought 
did not enter my head until this moment 1 I 
ought to have gone away long, long ago. Fare- 
well until we meet, Marya Alexandrovna. 

July 9th. 

I have deliberately given myself twenty-four 
hours to think it over, and now I am definitively 
convinced that there is no reason why I should 
remain here. The dust in the streets is so biting 
that it makes one's eyes ache. To-day I shall be- 
gin to pack; on the day after to-morrow, prob- 
ably, I shall leave here ; and ten days hence I shall 
have the pleasure of seeing you. I hope you vsdU 
receive me as of old. By the way— your sister is 
still visiting your aunt, is she not? 

Permit me, Marya Alexandrovna, to press 
your hand warmly, and to say to you from my 
soul : farewell until a speedy meeting. I was pre- 
paring to leave in any case, but this letter has pre- 
cipitated my intention. Let us assimfie that this 
letter proves nothing ; let us even assume that Ni- 
netta would not please any one else— me, for ex- 
ample. Yet I am going, all the same ; there is no 
doubt about that. Farewell for the present. 

Yours, A. S. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



From Mdrya Alexdndrovna to AlexyH 

Village of . . . no, July 16, 1840. 
You are coming hither, you will soon be with 
us, will you not, Alexyei Petrovitch? I will not 
conceal from you that this news both delights 
and agitates me. . . . How shall we meet? Will 
that spiritual bond be preserved which, so it seems 
to me, has already begun to unite us? Will 
it not break when we meet? I do not know; I 
am apprehensive, for some reason or other. I 
will not answer your last letter, although I might 
say a good deal; I will defer all this until we 
meet. My mother is greatly delighted at your 
coming. . . . She has been aware that I was cor- 
responding with you. The weather is enchant- 
ing. We will walk a great deal; I will show you 
the new places which I have discovered .... one 
long, narrow valley is particularly nice: it lies 
between hillocks, covered with forest. ... It 
seems to be hiding in their curves. A tiny brook 
flows along it and can barely force its way 
through the grass and flowers. . . . You shall 
see. Come: perhaps you will not find it tedious. 

M. B. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


P.S. You will not see my sister, I think: she 
is still visiting my amit. I believe (this is be- 
tween om'selves) that she is going to marry a 
very amiable yomig man— an officer. Why did 
you send me that letter from Naples? The life 
here perforce seems dim and pale in comparison 
with that luxury and that brilliancy. But Made- 
moiselle Ninetta is wrong: flowers grow and are 
fragrant— even with us. 


From Mdrya AlexdndroVTia to 'Aleooyet 

Village of . . . no, January, 1841. 
I have written to you several times, Alexyei 
Petrovitch. . . . You have not answered me. 
Are you alive? Or perhaps our correspondence 
has begun to bore you; perhaps you have found 
for yourself a more agreeable diversion than the 
letters of a rustic young lady can aff^ord you? 
Evidently you called me to mind for the lack of 
something to do. If that is the case, I wish you 
happiness. If you do not answer me this time, 
I shall not trouble you again; there will be no- 
thing left for me to do but to regret my impru- 
dence, that I have unnecessarily permitted my- 
self to be roused up, have off^ered my hand and 
emerged, if only for a moment, from my isolated 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


nook. I ought to remain in it forever, lock 
myself in— that is my portion, the portion of all 
old maids. I ought to accustom myself to that 
thought. There is no necessity for coming out 
into God's sunlight, no necessity for craving 
fresh air, when the lungs will not bear it. By 
the way, we are now blocked up with dead drifts 
of snow. I shall be more sensible henceforth. 
. . . People do not die of boredom, but it is pos- 
sible to perish with melancholy, I suppose. If I 
am mistaken, prove it to me. But I think I am 
not mistaken. In any case, farewell. I wish you 
happiness. M. B. 

From "jilexyei Petrdvitch to Mdrya 

Dbesden, September, 1842. 
I write to you, my dear Marya Alexandrovna, 
and I write only because I do not wish to die with- 
out having taken leave of you, and without hav- 
ing recalled myself to your mind. I am cop- 
demned by the doctors .... and I myself feel 
that my life is drawing to a close. On my table 
stands a rose; before it fades I shall be no more. 
But that comparison is not quite just. The rose 
is far more interesting than I am. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


As you see, I am abroad. I have been in Dres- 
den six months. I received yom* last letters— I 
am ashamed to confess: I lost several of them 
more than a year ago, and did not answer you. . . 
I will tell you presently why. But, evidently, 
you have always been dear to me: with the ex- 
ception of yourself, there is no one of whom I 
wish to take leave, and perhaps I have no one to 
whom I could bid farewell. 

Soon after my last letter to you (I was quite 
ready to set out for your parts, and was making 
various plans in advance), there happened to me 
an episode which had, I may say, a strong influ- 
ence on my fate,— so strong that here I am, dy- 
ing, thanks to that event. To wit: I set out for 
the theatre, to see the ballet. I have never liked 
the ballet, and have always felt a secret disgust 
for all sorts of actresses, singers, and dancers. . . . 
But, obviously, one cannot change his fate, nei- 
ther does any one know himself, and it is also 
impossible to foresee the future. In point of 
fact, nothing happens in life except the unex- 
pected, and we do nothing all our life long but 
adjust ourselves to events. . . . But I believe I 
am dropping into philosophy again. Old habit 1 
... In a word, I fell in love with a dancer. 

This was all the more strange because she 
could not be called a beauty. She had, it is true, 
wonderful golden hair, with an ash tinge, and 
large, bright eyes, with a pensive and, at the same 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


time, a bold glance. . . . Haven't I cause to 
know the expression of that glance? I pined and 
languished for a whole year in its rays! She had 
a splendid figure, and when she danced her folk- 
dance, the spectators used to stamp and shout 
with raptiu'e. . . . But I do not think any one 
besides myself fell in love with her— at all events, 
no one fell in love with her as I did. From the 
very minute that I beheld her for the first time— 
(will you believe it? all I have to do even now is 
to shut my eyes, and immediately here stands be- 
fore me the theatre, the almost empty stage, rep- 
resenting the interior of a forest, and she runs 
out from behind the side-scenes on the right, with 
a wreath of vine-leaves on her head and a tiger- 
skin over her shoulders) —from that fatal minute 
I belonged to her wholly,— just as a dog belongs 
to his master; and if now, when I am dying, I do 
not belong to her, it is merely because she has cast 
me off. 

To tell the truth, she never troubled herself 
especially about me. She barely noticed me, al- 
though she good-naturedly made use of my 
money. X was for her, as she expressed it in 
her broken French jargon, ^^ oun Bousso buon 
enfan/'—axid nothing more. But I .... I 
could no longer live anywhere where she was not; 
I tore myself at one wrench from all that was 
dear to me, from my native land itself, and set out 
in pursuit of that woman. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Perhaps you think that she was clever?— Not 
in the least! It sufficed to cast a glance at her 
low hrow, it sufficed to note, if only once, her lazy, 
heedless smile, in order instantly to convince one's 
self as to the paucity of her mental abilities. And 
I never imagined her to be a remarkable woman. 
On the whole, I did not deceive myself for a sin- 
gle minute on her score. But that did not help 
matters in the least. Whatever I thought of her 
in her absence, in her presence I felt nothing but 
servile adoration. ... In the German fairy- 
tales the knights often fall into that sort of 
stupor. I could not tear my eyes from her fea- 
tures; I could not hear enough of her remarks, or 
sufficiently watch every movement of hers; to 
tell the truth, I actually breathed to her breath- 
ing. However, she was good-natured, uncon- 
strained—too unconstrained even; she did not 
put on airs, as the majority of artists do. She 
had a great deal of life, that is, a great deal of 
blood, of that splendid Southern blood, into which 
the sun of their land must have dropped a portion 
of his rays. She slept nine hours a day, was fond 
of good eating, never read a single line of print, 
unless, perhaps, the articles in the newspapers in 
which she was mentioned, and almost the sole 
tender sentiment in her life was her attachment 
to il signore Carlino, a small and greedy Italian 
who served as her secretary and whom she after- 
ward married. And with such a woman as this I, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


who have tasted so many varied intellectual sub- 
tleties, I, already an old man, could fall in lovel 
Who could have expected it? I never expected 
it, at all events. I did not anticipate the part 
which I should be compelled to play. I did not 
expect that I should haunt rehearsals, freeze and 
get bored behind the scenes, inhale the reek of the 
theatre, make acquaintance with various un- 
seemly individuals .... what am I saying?— 
make acquaintance— bow to them. I had not ex- 
pected that I should carry a dancer's shawl, buy 
new gloves for her, clean her old ones with white 
bread (but I did it, I take my oath!) , cart home 
her bouquets, run about to the anterooms of jour- 
nalists and directors, wear myself out, give sere- 
nades, catch cold, lose my strength. ... I had 
not expected that I should acquire at last in a 
certain little German town the ingenious nick- 
name of " der Kunst'barbar.'' . • . And all this 
in vain— in the fullest sense of the word, in 
vain! There, that is precisely the state of the 
case • • . 

Do you remember how you and I, orally and 
by letter, argued about love, into what subtleties 
we entered? And when it is put to the proof, it 
turns out that real love is a feeling not at all re- 
sembling that which we imagined it to be. Love 
is not even a feeling at all ; it is a malady, a well- 
known condition of the soul and body. It does 
not develop gradually; there is no possibility of 
• 165 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


doubting it; one cannot dodge it, although it does 
not always manifest itself in identically the same 
fashion. It generally takes possession of a man 
without being invited, suddenly, against his will 
—precisely like the cholera or a fever. ... It 
lays hold upon him, the dear creature, as a hawk 
does upon a chicken; and it will bear him oflF 
whithersoever it wishes, struggle and resist as he 
may. ... In love there is no equality, no so- 
called free union of souls and other ideal things, 
invented at their leisure by Grcrman professors. 
• • . No; in love one person is the slave, the other 
is the sovereign, and not without cause do the 
poets prate of the chains imposed by love. Yes, 
love is a chain, and the heaviest of chains at that. 
At all events, I have arrived at that conviction, 
and have reached it by the path of experience. I 
have purchased that conviction at the price of 
my life, because I am dying a slave. 

Alack, what a fate is mine I one thinks. In 
my youth I was resolutely determined to conquer 
heaven for myself. . . . Later on, I fell to 
dreaming about the welfare of all mankind, the 
prosperity of my fatherland. Then that passed 
off: I thought only of how I might arrange my 
domestic, my family life .... and I tripped 
over an ant-hill— and flop! I went headlong on 
the ground, and into the grave. . . . What mas- 
ter hands we Russians are at winding up in that 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


However, it is high time for me to turn away 
from all this,— it was time long ago! May this 
burden fall from my soul along with my life! I 
wish for the last time, if only for a moment, to 
enjoy that good, gentle feeling which is diffused 
within me like a tranquil light as soon as I call 
you to mind. Your image is now doubly dear to 
me. . . . Along with it there surges up before 
me the image of my native land, and I waft to it 
and to you my last greeting. Live on, live long 
and happily, and remember one thing: whether 
you remain in that remote nook of the steppes, 
where you sometimes find things so painful, but 
where I should so like to spend my last day, or 
whether you shall enter upon another career, 
remember: life fails to disappoint him alone who 
does not meditate upon it, and, demanding no- 
thing from it, calmly accepts its sparse gifts, and 
calmly makes use of them. Go forward, while 
yoii can: but when yoiur feet fail you,— sit down 
near the road, and gaze at the passers-by without 
vexation and without envy: for they will not go 
far! I have said this to you before, but death 
will teach any man whomsoever; moreover, who 
shall say what is life, what is truth? Remember 
tjoho it was that gave no answer to this question. 
. . . Farewell, Marya Alexandrovna; farewell for 
the last time, and bear no ill will to poor— 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



IN a fairly-large recently-whitewashed cham- 
ber of a wing of the manor-house in the 
village of Sdsovo, *** comity, T*** Grovem- 
ment, a yomig man in a paletot was sitting at a 
small, warped table, looking over accounts. Two 
stearine candles, in silver travelling-candlesticks, 
were burning in front of him; in one comer, on 
the wall-bench, stood an open bottle-case, in an- 
other a servant was setting up an iron bed. On 
the other side of a low partition a samovar was 
murmuring and hissing; a dog was nestling about 
on some hay which had just been brought in. In 
the doorway stood a peasant-man in a new over- 
coat girt with a red belt, with a large beard, and 
an intelligent face— the overseer, judging by all 
the tokens. He was gazing attentively at the 
seated young man. 

Against one wall stood a very aged, tiny 
piano; beside it an equally-ancient chest of 
drawers with holes in place of the locks; between 
the windows a small, dim mirror was visible; 
on the partition-wall himg an old portrait, which 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


was almost completely peeled off, representing 
a woman with powdered hair, in a robe ronde, and 
with a black ribbon about her slender neck. Judg- 
ing from the very perceptible sagging of the 
ceiling, and the slope of the floor, which was 
full of cracks, the little wing into which we have 
conducted the reader had existed for a very long 
time. No one lived in it permanently; it was put 
to use when the owners came. The young man 
who was sitting at the table was the owner of 
the village of Sasovo. He had arrived only on 
the previous day from his principal estate, situ- 
ated a hundred versts ^ distant, and was prepar- 
ing to depart on the morrow, after completing 
the inspection of the farming, listening to the 
demands of the peasants, and verifying all the 

"Well, that will do,"— he said, raising his 
head;—" I am tired. Thou mayest go now/'— 
he added, tinning to the overseer;— "and come 
very early to-morrow morning, and notify the 
peasants at daybreak that they are to present 
themselves in assembly,— dost hear me? '* 

" I obey/' 

" And order the estate-clerk to present to me 
the report for the last month. But thou hast 
done well,"— the gentleman went on, casting a 
glance around him,—" in whitewashing the walls* 
Everjrthing seems cleaner." 

^ A verst is two thirds of a mile.— Tbaitslaxoe. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


The overseer silently swept a glance around 
the walls also. 

"WeU, gonow."' 

The overseer made his oheisance and left the 

The gentleman stretched himself. 

"Hey!"— he shouted.— " Give me some tea! 
.... 'T is time to go to bed." 

His servant went to the other side of the par- 
tition, and speedily returned with a glass of tea, 
a bimdle of town cracknels, and a cream-jug on 
an iron tray. The gentleman began to drink tea, 
but before he had had time to swallow two mouth- 
fuls, the noise of persons entering resounded 
from an adjoining room, and some one's squeak- 
ing voice inquired: 

" Is Vladimir Sergyeitch Astakhoff at home? 
Can he be seen? " 

Vladimir Sergyeitch (that was the name of the 
young man in the paletot) cast a glance of sur- 
prise at his man, and said in a hurried whisper: 

" GrO, find out who it is." 

The man withdrew, slamming behind him the 
door, which closed badly. 

"Announce to Vladimir Sergyeitch,"— rang 
out the same squeaking voice as before,—" that 
his neighbour Ipdtoff wishes to see him, if it 
will not incommode him; and another neighbour 
has come with me, Bodryakoff, Ivan Ilitch, who 
also desires to pay his respects." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Vladimir Sergyeitch made an involmitary ges- 
ture of vexation. Nevertheless, when his man 
entered the room, he said to him: 

" Ask them in." And he arose to receive his 

The door opened, and the visitors made their 
appearance. One of them, a robust, grey-haired 
little old man, with a small, round head and 
bright little eyes, walked in advance; the other, 
a tall, thin man of three-and-thirty, with a long, 
swarthy face and dishevelled hair, walked behind, 
with a shambling gait. The old man wore a neat 
grey coat with large, mother-of-pearl buttons; 
a small, pink neckerchief, half concealed by the 
rolling collar of his white shirt, loosely encircled 
his neck; his feet shone resplendent in gaiters; 
the plaids of his Scotch trousers were agreeably 
gay in hue; and, altogether, he produced a pleas- 
ant impression. His companion, on the contrary, 
evoked in the spectator a less favourable sensa- 
tion: he wore an old black dress-coat, buttoned up 
to the throat; his full trousers, of thick, winter 
tricot, matched his coat in colour; no linen was 
visible, either around his throat or around his 
wrists. The little old man was the first to ap- 
proach Vladimir Sergyeitch, and, with an amia- 
ble inclination of the head, he began in the same 
shrill little voice: 

" I have the honour to introduce myself,— 
your nearest neighbour, and even a relative, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC ■ 


Ipatoff, Mikhailo Nikolaitch. I have long wished 
to have the pleasure of making your acquain- 
tance. I hope that I have not disturbed you." 

Vladimir Sergyeitdi replied that he was very 
glad to see him, and that he was not disturbed 
in the least, and would not he take a seat • • • . 
and drink tea. 

" And this nobleman,"— went on the little old 
man, after listening with a courteous snule to 
Vladimir Sergyeitch's unfinished phrases, and 
extending his hand in the direction of the gentle- 
man in the dress-coat,— "also your neighbour 
. . • . and my good acquaintance, Ivan Ilitch, 
strongly desired to make your acquaintance." 

The gentleman in the dress-coat, from whose 
countenance no one would have suspected that 
he was capable of desiring anything strongly 
in his life— so preoccupied and, at the same time, 
so sleepy was the expression of that countenance, 
— the gentleman in the dress-coat bowed clum- 
sily and languidly. Vladimir Sergyeitch bowed 
to him in return, and again invited the visitors to 
be seated. 

The visitors sat down. 

" I am very glad,"— began the little old man, 
pleasantly throwing apart his hands, while his 
companion set to scrutinising the ceiling, with 
his mouth slightly open:—" I am very glad that 
I have, at last, the honour of seeing you person- 
ally. Although you have your permanent resi- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


dence in a county which lies at a considerable 
distance from these localities, still, we regard you 
also as one of our own primordial landed pro- 
prietors, so to speak." 

" That is very flattering to me,"— returned 
Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

" Flattering or not, it is a fact. You must 
excuse us, Vladimir Sergyeitch; we people here 
in ♦*♦ county are a straightforward folk; we live 
in our simplicity; we say what we think, without 
circumlocution. It is our custom, I must tell 
you, not to call upon each other on Name-days * 
otherwise than in our frock-coats. Truly! We 
have made that the rule. On that account, we 
are called ' frock-coaters ' in the adjoining coun- 
ties, and we are even reproached for our bad 
style; but we pay no attention to that! Pray, 
what is the use of living in the country— and then 
standing on ceremony? " 

" Of course, what can be better .... in the 
country .... than that naturalness of inter- 
course,"— remarked Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

" And yet,"— replied the little old man,— 
" among us in our county dwell people of the 
cleverest sort,— one may say people of European 
culture, although they do not wear dress-suits. 

^ The Name-day --that is, the day of the saint after whom a person 
is named— is observed with feasting and congratulation, instead of 
the birthday. For ceremonious calls, no matter at what hour of the 
day, a man who has no official uniform must wear his evening suit, 
on penalty of being considered ignorant or rude, or (in official circles) 
of being refused admittanc.— Traxslatoe. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Take, for example, our historian Evsiukoff, 
Stepan Stepanitch: he is interesting himself in 
Russian history from the most ancient times, and 
is known in Petersburg— an extremely learned 
man! There is in our town an ancient Swedish 
cannon-ball . • . . 't is placed yonder, in the cen- 
tre of the public square . . . and 't was he who 
discovered it, you know! Certainly! Tz^nteler, 
Anton Karlitch . • . . now he has studied nat- 
ural history; but they say all Germans are suc- 
cessful in that line. When, ten years ago, a stray 
hyena was killed in our vicinity, it was this Ant6n 
Karlitch who discovered that it really was a hy- 
ena, by cause of the peculiar construction of its 
tail. And then, we have a landed proprietor Ka- 
burdin: he chiefly writes light articles; he wields 
a very dashing pen; his articles appear in ' Gala- 
tea.' Bodryakoff, .... not Ivan flitch; no, 
Ivan flitch neglects that; but another Bodrya- 
koff, Sergyei .... what the deuce was his fa- 
ther's baptismal name, Ivdn flitch .... what 
the deuce was it? " 

" Sergyeitch,"— prompted Ivan flitch. 

"Yes; Sergyei Sergyeitch,— he busies himself 
with writing verses. Well, of course he 's not a 
Pushkin, but sometimes he gets off things which 
would pass muster even in the capitals. Do you 
know his epigram on Agei Fomitch? " 

"What AgeiFomitch?" 

" Akh, pardon me; I keep forgetting that you 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


are nojt a resident here, after all. He is our chief 
of pcJice. The epigram is extremely amusing. 
Thou rememberest it, I believe, Ivan tliteh? " 

" Agei Fomitch,''— said Bodryakoff, indiffer- 

**.... not without cause is gloriously 
By the nobles'* election honoured **' 

" I must tell you,"— broke in Ipatoff,— " that 
he was elected almost exclusively by white balls, 
for he is a most worthy man." 

" Agei Fomitch,"— repeated Bodryakoff, 

**.... not without cause is gloriously 
By the nobles'* election honoured : 
He drinks and eats regularly .... 
So why should not he be the regulator of order? **^ 

The little old man burst out laughing. 

" Ha, ha, ha! that is n't bad, is it? Ever since 
then, if you 'U believe me, each one of us will 
say, for instance, to Agei Fomitch:* Good morn- 
ing! '—and will invariably add: ' so why should 
not he be the regulator of order?' And does 
Agei Fomitch get angry, think you? Not in the 
least. No— that 's not our way. Just ask Ivan 
lUtch here if it is." 

Ivan Hitch merely rolled up his eyes. 

" Get angry at a jest— how is that possible? 

^ A pan is intendeds isprdvnot reg^ularly, in orderly manner; 
iapravnikt the chief of police in a rural district.— Tbanslatob. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Now, take Ivan Ilitch there; his nickname among 
us is * The Folding Soul/ because he agrees to 
everything very promptly. What then? Does 
Ivan Ilitch take offence at that? Never! " 

Ivan Ilitch, slowly blinking his eyes, looked 
first at the little old man, then at Vladimir Ser- 

The epithet, "The Folding Soul," really did 
fit Ivan Ilitch admirably. There was not a trace 
in him of what is called will or character. Any 
one who wished could lead him whithersoever he 
would; all that was necessary was to say to him: 
" Come on, Ivan Ilitch! "—and he picked up his 
cap and went; but if another person turned up, 
and said to him: " Halt, Ivan Ilitch! "—he laid 
down his cap and remained. He was of a peace- 
able, tranquil disposition, had lived a bachelor- 
life, did not play cards, but was fond of sitting 
beside the players and looking into each of their 
faces in turn. Without society he could not exist, 
and solitude he could not endure. At such times 
he became despondent; however, this happened 
very rarely with him. He had another peculiar- 
ity: rising from his bed betimes in the morning, 
he would sing in an undertone an old romance: 

"In the country once a Baron 
Dwelt in simplicity rural. ..." 

In consequence of this peculiarity of Ivan 
flitch's, he was also called " The Hawfinch," be- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


cause, as is well known, the hawfinefa when in cap- 
tivity sings only once in the course of the day, 
early in the morning. Such was Ivan Hitch Bo- 

The conversation between f patoff and Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch lasted for quite a long time, but 
not in its original, so to speak, speculative direc- 
tion. The little old man questioned Vladimir 
Sergyeitch about his estate, the condition of his 
forests and other sorts of land, the improvements 
which he had already introduced or was only 
intending to introduce in his farming; he im- 
parted to him several of his own observations; ad- 
vised him, among other things, in order to get rid 
of hummocky pastures, to sprinkle them with 
oats, which, he said, would induce the pigs to 
plough them up with their snouts, and so forth. 
But, at last, perceiving that Vladimir Sergyeitch 
was so sleepy that he could hardly keep his eyes 
open, and that a certain deliberation and inco- 
herence were making themselves evident in his 
speech, the little old man rose, and, with a courte- 
ous obeisance, declared that he would not in- 
commode him any longer with his presence, but 
that he hoped to have the pleasure of seeing the 
valued guest at his own house not later than the 
following day, at dinner. 

" And the first person you meet, not to men- 
tion any small child, but, so to speak, any hen 
or peasant-woman,"— he added,— "will point 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


out to you the road to my village. All you have 
to do is to ask for Ipatoff. The horses will trot 
there of themselves." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch replied with a little hesi- 
tation—which, however, was natural to him— 
that he would try . . . that if nothing pre- 
vented .... 

" Yes, we shall certainly expect you,"— the 
little old man interrupted him, cordially, shook 
his hand warmly, and briskly withdrew, exclaim- 
ing in the doorway, as he half tiuned round:— 
" Without ceremony! " 

" Folding Soul " Bodryakoff bowed in silence 
and vanished in the wake of his companion, with 
a preliminary stimable on the threshold. 

Having seen his unexpected guests off, Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch immediately undressed, got into 
bed, and went to sleep. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch* Astakhoff belonged to 
the category of people who, after having cau- 
tiously tested their powers in two or three dif- 
ferent careers, are wont to say of themselves 
that they have finally come to the conclusion to 
look at life from a practical point of view, and 
who devote their leisure to augmenting their 
revenues. He was not stupid, was rather penu- 
rious, and very sensible; was fond of reading, of 
society, of music— but all in moderation .... 
and bore himself very decorously. He was 
twenty-seven years old. A great many young 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


men of his sort have sprung up recently. He was 
of medium height, well built, and had agreeable 
though small features; their expression almost 
never varied; his eyes always gleamed with one 
and the same stern, bright glance; only now and 
then did this glance soften with a faint shade of 
something which was not precisely sadness, nor 
yet precisely boredom; a courteous smile rarely 
quitted his lips. He had very handsome, fair hair, 
silky, and falling in long ringlets. Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch owned about six hundred souls ^ on a 
good estate, and he was thinking of marriage — a 
marriage of inclination, but which should, at the 
same time, be advantageous. He was particu- 
larly desirous of finding a wife with powerful 
connections. In a word, he merited the appella- 
tion of "gentleman'' which had recently come 
into vogue. 

When he rose on the following morning, very 
early, according to his wont, our gentleman oc- 
cupied himself with business, and, we must do 
him the justice to say, did so in a decidedly prac- 
tical manner, which cannot always be said of 
practical young men among us in Russia. He 
patiently listened to the confused petitions and 
complaints of the peasants, gave them satisfac- 
tion so far as he was able, investigated the quar- 
rels and dissensions which had arisen between 

^ Male serfs. The women and children did not figure on the 
revision lists.— Teanslatoe. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


relatives, exhorted some, scolded others, audited 
jthe clerk's accounts, brought to light two or three 
[rascalities on the part of the overseer— in a word, 
handled matters in such wise that he was very 
well satisfied with himself, and the peasants, as 
they returned from the assembly to their homes, 
spoke well of him. 

In spite of his promise given on the preceding 
evening to Ipatoff, Vladimir Sergyeitch had 
made up his mind to dine at home, and had even 
ordered his travelling-cook to prepare his favour- 
ite rice-soup with pluck; but all of a sudden, pos- 
sibly in consequence of that feeling of satisfac- 
tion which had filled his soul ever since the early 
morning, he stopped short in the middle of the 
room, smote himself on the brow with his hand, 
and, not without some spirit, exclaimed aloud: 
" I believe I 'U go to that flowery old babbler! " 
No sooner said than done; half an bour later he 
was sitting in his new tarantas, drawn by four 
stout peasant-horses, and driving to Ipatoff's 
house, which was reckoned to be not more than 
twenty-five versts distant by a capital road. 


MiKHAiLO NiKOLAEvrrcH Ipatoff's manor 
consisted of two separate small mansions, built 
opposite each other on the two sides of a huge 
pond through which ran a river. A long dam, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


planted with silver poplars, shut off the pond; al-j \ 
most on a level with it the red roof of a small 
hand-mill was visible. Built exactly alike, and j 
painted with the same lilac hue, the tiny house&t 
seemed to be exchanging glances across the brc^^d, 
watery expanse, with the glittering panes oi v ^fieir 
small, clean windows. From the middle of (^^each 
little house a circular terrace projected, arF^^Jda 
sharp-peaked pediment rosei aloft, supported B}/ 
four white pillars set close together. The an- 
cient park ran all the way round the pond; lin- 
dens stretched out in alleys, and stood in dense 
clumps; aged pine-trees, with pale yellow boles, 
dark oaks, magnificent maples here and there 
reared high in air their solitary crests; the dense 
verdure of the thickly-spreading lilacs and aca- 
cias advanced close up to the very sides of the two 
little houses, leaving revealed only their fronts, 
from which winding paths paved with brick ran 
down the slope. Motley-hued ducks, white and 
grey geese were swimming in separate flocks on 
the clear water of the pond; it never became cov- 
ered with scum, thanks to abundant springs 
which welled into its " head " from the base of the 
steep, rocky ravine. The situation of the manor 
was good, pleasant, isolated, and beautiful. 
X In one of the two little houses dwelt Mikhafl 
Nikolaevitch himself; in the other lived his 
mother, a decrepit old woman of seventy years. 
When he drove on to the dam, Vladimir Ser- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



gyeitch did not know to which house to betake 
himself. He glanced about him: a small urchin 
of the house-serfs was fishing, as he stood bare- 
footed on a half -rotten tree-stimip. Vladimir 
^ Sergyeitch hailed him. 
ji " But to whom are you going— to the old lady 
J. or to the young master?''— replied the urchin, 
T without taking his eyes from his float. 
. t " What lady? "—replied Vladimir Sergyeitch. 
— " I want to find Mikhaflo Nikolaitch." 

" Ah! the young master? Well, then, tiun to 
the right." 

And the lad gave his line a jerk, and drew 
from the motionless water a small, silvery carp. 
Vladimir Sergyeitch drove to the right. 

Mikhail Nikolaitch was playing at draughts 
with The Folding Soul when the arrival of Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch was announced to him. He was 
delighted, sprang from his arm-chair, ran out 
into the anteroom and there kissed the visitor 
three times. 

" You find me with my invariable friend, Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch,"— began the loquacious little 
old man:—" with Ivan llitch, who, I will remark 
in passing, is completely enchanted with your 
affability." (Ivdn llitch darted a silent glance 
at the corner.) " He was so kind as to remain 
to play draughts with me, while all my household 
went for a stroll in the park; but I will send for 
them at once. . . ." 


\ Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


"But why disturb them? "—Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch tried to expostulate. . . . 

" Not the least inconvenience, I assure you. 
Hey, there, Vanka, run for the yoimg ladies as 
fast as thou canst . . . tell them that a guest has 
favoured us with a visit. And how does this 
locality please you? It 's not bad, is it? Ka- 
burdin has composed some verses about it. * Ipa- 
tovka, refuge lovely '—that 's the way they begin, 
—and the rest of it is just as good, only I don't 
remember all of it. The park is large, that 's the 
trouble; beyond my means. And these two 
houses, which are so much alike, as you have, 
perhaps, deigned to observe, were erected by two 
brothers— my father Nikolai, and my uncle Ser- 
gyei; they also laid out the park; they were exem- 
plary friends .... Damon and .... there 
now! I Ve forgotten the other man's name. • . ." 

" Pythion,"— remarked Ivan tlitch. 

" Not really? Well, never mind." (At home 
the old man talked in a much more unconven- 
tional manner than when he was paying calls.) — 
" You are, probably, not ignorant of the fact, 
Vladimir Sergyeitch, that I am a widower, that 
I have lost my wife; my elder children are in 
government educational institutions,* and I have 
with me only the youngest two, and my sister-in- 
law lives with me— my wife's sister; you will see 

* Of different grades (civil and military), for the children of the 
nobility or gentry. They are not charities. — Thanslatob. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC j 


her directly. But why don't I offer you some 
refreshment? Ivan llitdi, my dear fellow, see 
to a little luncheon .... what sort of vodka 
are you pleased to prefer? " 

" I drink nothing until dinner." 

"Goodness, how is that possible 1 However, 
as you please. The truest hospitality is to let 
the guest do as he likes. We are very simple- 
mannered folk here, you see. Here with us, if 
I may venture so to express myself, we live not 
so much in a lonely as in a dead-calm place, a 
remote nook— that 's what! But why don't you 
sit down? " 

Vladimir Sergyeitch seated himself, without 
letting go of his hat. 

" Permit me to relieve you,"— said Ipatoff, 
and delicately taking his hat from him, he car- 
ried it off to a corner, then returned, looked his 
visitor in the eye with a cordial smile, and, not 
knowing just what agreeable thing to say to him, 
inquired, in the most hearty manner,— whether he 
was fond of playing draughts. 

" I play all games badly,"— replied Vladimir 

" And that 's a very fine thing in you,"— re- 
turned Ipatoff:— "but draughts is not a game, 
but rather a diversion— a way of passing leisure 
time; is n't that so, Ivan Ilitch? " 

Ivan Ilitch cast an indifferent glance at Ipd- 
toff, as though he were thinking to himself, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" The devil only knows whether it is a game or 
a diversion," but, after waiting a while, he said: 

" Yes; draughts don't count." 

" Chess is quite another matter, they say," — 
pursued Ipatoff ;— " 't is a very difficult game, 
I'm told. But, in my opinion .... but yonder 
come my people!"— he interrupted himself, 
glancing through the half -open glass door, which 
gave upon the park. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch rose, turned roimd, and 
beheld first two little girls, about ten years of age, 
in pink cotton frocks and broad-brimmed hats, 
who were running alertly up the steps of the 
terrace ; not far behind them a tall, plump, well- 
built young girl of twenty, in a dark gown, made 
her appearance. They all entered the house, and 
the little girls courtesied sedately to the visitor. 

" Here, sir, let me present you,"— said the host; 
— " my daughters, sir. This one here is named 
Katya, and this one is Nastya, and this is my 
sister-in-law, Marya Pavlovna, whom I have al- 
ready had the pleasure of mentioning to you. I 
beg that you will love and favour them." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch made his bow to Marya 
Pavlovna; she replied to him with a barely per- 
ceptible inclination of the head. 

Marya Pavlovna held in her hand a large, open 
knife; her thick, ruddy-blond hair was slightly 
dishevelled,— a small green leaf had got en- 
tangled in it, her braids had escaped from the 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


comb,— her dark-skinned face was flushed, and 
her red lips were parted; her gown looked crum- 
pled. She was breathing fast; her eyes were 
sparkling; it was evident that she had been work- 
ing in the garden. She immediately left the 
room; the little girls ran out after her. 

" She 's going to rearrange her toilet a bit,"— 
remarked the old man, turning to Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch;— " they can't get along without that, 

Vladimir Sergyeitch grinned at him in re- 
sponse, and became somewhat pensive. Mdrya 
Pavlovna had made an impression on him. It was 
long since he had seen such a purely Russian 
beauty of the steppes. She speedily returned, 
sat down on the divan, and remained motionless. 
She had smoothed her hair, but had not changed 
her gown, — had not even put on cuffs. Her fea- 
tures expressed not precisely pride, but rather 
austerity, almost harshness; her brow was broad 
and low, her nose short and straight; a slow, lazy 
smile curled her lips from time to time; her 
straight eyebrows contracted scornfully. She 
kept her large, dark eyes almost constantly low- 
ered. " I know," her repellent yoimg face seemed 
to be saying; " I know that you are all looking 
at me; well, then, look; you bore me." But 
when she raised her eyes, there was something 
wild, beautiful, and stolid about them, which was 
suggestive of the eyes of a doe. She had a mag- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


nificent figure. A classical poet would have com- 
pared her to Ceres or Juno. 

" What have you been doing in the garden? " 
— Ipatoff asked her, being desirous of bringing 
her into the conversation. 

" I have been cutting off dead branches, apd 
digging up the flower-beds," she replied, in a 
voice which was rather low, but agreeable and 

" And are you tired? " 

" The children are; I am not." 

" I know,"— interposed the old man, with a 
smile;—" thou art a regular Bobelinal And have 
you been to grandmamma's? " 

" Yes; she is asleep." 

"Are you fond of flowers?"— Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch asked her. 

" Yes." 

" Why dost thou not put on thy hat when thou 
goest out of doors? "—Ipatoff remarked to her. 
— " Just see how red and sunbiuned thou art." 

She silently passed her hand over her face. 
Her hands were not large, but rather broad, and 
decidedly red. She did not wear gloves. 

" And are you fond of gardening? " — Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch put another question to her. 

" Yes." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch began to narrate what a 
fine garden there was in his neighbourhood, be- 
longing to a wealthy landed proprietor named 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


N***.— The head gardener, a German, received 
in wages alone two thousand rubles, silver* — he 
said, among other things. 

" And what is the name of that gardener? ''— 
inquired Ivan Ilitch, suddenly. 

" I don't remember,— Meyer or Miiller, I 
think. But why do you ask? " 

" For no reason in particular, sir,"— replied 
Ivan ilitch.—" To find out his name." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch continued his narration. 
The little girls, Mikhail Nikolaitch's daughters, 
entered, sat down quietly, and quietly began to 
listen. ... 

A servant made his appearance at the door, 
had announced that Egor Kapitonitch had ar^ 

" Ah I Ask him in, ask him in! "—exclaimed 

There entered a short, fat little old man, one 
of the sort of people who are called squat or 
dumpy, with a pufiPy and, at the same time, a 
wrinkled little face, after the fashion of a baked 
apple. He wore a grey hussar jacket with black 
braiding and a standing collar; his full coffee- 
coloured velveteen trousers ended far above his 

" G<x)d morning, my most respected Egor 
Kapitonitch,"— exclaimed Ipatoff, advancing to 

1 In those days there was a great difference in the value of silver and 
paper money hence the kind is usually specified. —Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


meet him.—" We have n't seen each other for a 
long time." 

" Could n't be helped,"— returned Egor Kapi- 
tonitch in a lisping and whining voice, after hav- 
ing preliminarily exchanged salutations with all 
present;— "surely you know, Mikhail Sergye- 
itch, whether I am a free man or not? " 

" And how are you not a free man, Egor Kapi- 

" Why, of course I 'm not, Mikhail Nikola- 
itch; there 's my family, my affairs. . . . And 
there 's Matryona Markovna to boot," and he 
waved his hand in despair. 

" But what about Matryona Markovna? " 

And Ipatoff launched a slight wink at Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch, as though desirous of exciting 
his interest in advance. 

" Why, everybody knows/'— returned Egor 
Kapitonitch, as he took a seat;—" she 's always 
discontented with me, don't you know that?. 
Whatever I say, it 's wrong, not delicate, not 
decorous. And why it is n't decorous, the Lord 
God alone knows. And the young ladies, my 
daughters that is to say, do the same, taking pat- 
tern by their mother. I don't say but what Ma- 
tryona Markovna is a very fine woman, but she 's 
awfully severe on the score of manners.'* 

"But, good gracious! in what way are your 
manners bad, Eg6r Kapitonitch? " 

" That 's exactly what I 'd like to know myself; 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


but, evidently, she 's hard to suit. Yesterday, 
for instance, I said at table: 'Matry6na Mar- 
kovna,' " (and Egor Kapitoniteh imparted to 
his voice an insinuating inflection,—" * Matryona 
Markovna,' says I, ' what 's the meaning of this, 
— that Aldoshka is n't careful with the horses, 
does n't know how to drive? ' says I; ' there 's the 
black stallion quite foundered.'— I-iikh! how Ma- 
tryona Markovna did flare up, and set to crying 
shame on me: ' Thou dost not know how to ex- 
press thyself decently in the society of ladies,' 
says she ; and the yoimg ladies instantly galloped 
away from the table, and on the next day, the 
Biriulofi^ young ladies, my wife's nieces, had 
heard all about it. And how had I expressed my- 
self badly? And no matter what I say— and 
sometimes I really am incautious,— no matter to 
whom I say it, especially at home,— those Biriu- 
lofi^ girls know all about it the next day. A fel- 
low simply does n't know what to do. Sometimes 
I 'm just sitting so, thinking after my fashion, 
—I breathe hard, as perhaps you know,— and 
Matryona Markovna sets to berating me again: 
* Don't snore,' says she ; * nobody snores nowa- 
days!'— * What art thou scolding about, Ma- 
tryona Markovna? ' says I. ' Good mercy, thou 
shouldst have compassion, but thou scoldest.' 
So I don't meditate at home any more. I sit 
and look down— so— all the time. By Heaven, I 
do. And then, again, not long ago, we got into 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


bed; * Matryona Markovna/ says I, * what makes 
thee spoil thy page-boy, matushka?^ Why, he 's a 
regular little pig,' says I, ' and he might wash his 
face of a Sunday, at least/ And what happened? 
It strikes me that I said it distantly, tenderly, but 
I did n't hit the mark even then; Matryona Mar- 
kovna began to cry shame on me again: ^Thou 
dost not imderstand how to behave in the society 
of ladies,' says she; and the next day the Biriii- 
loflF girls knew all about it. What time have I 
to think of visits imder such circumstances, Mi- 
khail Nikolaitch? " 

" I 'm amazed at what you tell me,"— replied 
IpdtoflF;— " I did not expect that from Matryona 
Markovna. Apparently, she is . . . ." 

"An extremely fine woman,"— put in Egor 
Kapitonitch;— " a model wife and mother, so to 
speak, only strict on the score of manners. She 
says that ensemble is necessary in everything, and 
that I have n't got it. I don't speak French, as 
you are aware, I only imderstand it. But what 's 
that ensemble that I have n't got? " 

IpatoflF, who was not very strong in French 
himself, only shrugged his shoulders. 

" And how are your children— your sons, that 
is to say? "—he asked Egor Kapitonitch after a 
brief pause. 

Egor Kapitonitch darted an oblique glance at 

^ Literally, ''dear little mother/'— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" My sons are all right, I 'm satisfied with 
them. The girls have got out of hand, but I 'm 
satisfied with my sons. Lyolya discharges his ser- 
vice well, his superior officers approve of him; 
that Lyolya of mine is a clever fellow. Well, 
Mikhetz— he 's not like that; he has turned out 
some sort of a philanthropist." 

" Why a philanthropist? " 

" The Lord knows; he speaks to nobody, he 
shims folks. Matryona Markovna mostly 
abashes him. * Why dost thou take pattern by 
thy father? ' she says to him. * Do thou respect 
him, but copy thy mother as to manners.' He 11 
get straightened out, he '11 turn out all right 

Vladimir Sergyeitch asked Ipatoff to intro- 
duce him to Egor Kapitonitch. They entered 
into conversation. Marya Pavlovna did not take 
part in it; Ivan llitch seated himself beside her, 
and said two words, in all, to her; the little girls 
came up to him, and began to narrate something 
to him in a whisper. . . . The housekeeper en- 
tered, a gaimt old woman, with her head boimd 
up in a dark kerchief, and annoimced that dinner 
was ready. All wended their way to the dining- 

The dinner lasted for quite a long time. Ipd- 
toff kept a good cook, and ordered pretty good 
wines, not from Moscow, but from the capital 
of the government. Ipatoff lived at his ease, as 

195 i. ; - -^ 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


the sajring goes. He did not own more than three 
hundred souls, hut he was not in debt to any 
one, and had brought his estate into order. At 
table, the host himself did the greater part of 
the talking; Egor Kapitonitch chimed in, but did 
not forget himself, at the same time; he ate and 
drank gloriously. Marya Pavlovna preserved 
unbroken silence, only now and then replying 
with half -smiles to the hurried remarks of the 
two little girls, who sat one on each side of her. 
They were, evidently, very fond of her. Vladimir 
Sergyeitch made several attempts to enter into 
conversation with her, but without particular suc- 
cess. Folding Soul BodryakoflF even ate indo- 
lently and languidly. After dinner all went out 
on the terrace to drink coffee. The weather was 
magnificent; from the garden was wafted the 
sweet perfume of the lindens, which were then in 
full flower; the smnmer air, slightly cooled by the 
thick shade of the trees, and the humidity of the 
adjacent pond, breathed forth a sort of caressing 
warmth. Suddenly, from behind the poplars of 
the dam, the trampling of a horse's hoofs became 
audible, and a moment later, a horsewoman made 
her appearance in a long riding-habit and a grey 
hat, mounted on a bay horse ; she was riding at a 
gallop; a page was galloping behind her, on a 
small, white cob. 

" Ah ! " - exclaimed Ipdtoff, - " Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna is coming. What a pleasant sur- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


"Alone? "—asked Marya Pavlovna, who up 
to that moment had been standing motionless in 
the doorway. 

"Alone. . . • Evidently, something has de- 
tained Piotr Alexyeevitch." 

Marya Pavlovna darted a sidelong glance from 
beneath her brows, a flush overspread her face, 
and she turned away. 

In the meantime, the horsewoman had ridden 
through the wicket-gate into the garden, gal- 
loped up to the terrace, and sprang lightly to the 
ground, without waiting either for her groom 
or for Ipatoff, who had started to meet her. 
Briskly gathering up the train of her riding- 
habit, she ran up the steps, and springing upon 
the terrace, exclaimed blithely: 

"Here I ami" 

"Welcome!"— said Ipatoff.— "How unex- 
pected, how charming this is! Allow me to kiss 
your hand. . . ." 

" Certainly,"— returned the visitor; " only, you 
must pull off the glove yourself.— I cannot." 
And, extending her hand to him, she nodded to 
Marya Pavlovna.— " Just fancy, Masha, my 
brother will not be here to-day,"— she said, with 
a little sigh. 

" I see for myself that he is not here,"— replied 
Mdrya Pavlovna in an imdertone. 

"He bade me say to thee that he is busy. 
Thou must not be angry. Good morning, Egor 
Kapitonitch; good morning, Ivan Ilitch; good 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


morning, children. . • . Vasya,"— added the 
guest, turning to her small groom,—" order them 
to walk Little Beauty up and down well, dost 
hear? Masha, please give me a pin, to fasten 
up my train. . . . Come here, Mikhail Niko- 

Ipatoff went closer to her. 

" Who is that new person? "—she asked, quite 

" That is a neighbour, Astakhoff, Vladimir 
Sergyeevitch, you know, the owner of Sasovo. 
I 11 introduce him if you like, shall I? " 

" Very well .... afterward. Akh, what 
splendid weather! "—she went on.—" Egor Ka- 
pitonitch, tell me— can it be possible that Ma- 
tryona Markovna growls even in such weather as 
this? " 

" Matryona Markovna never grumbles in any 
sort of weather, madam; and she is merely strict ] 
on the score of manners. . ." 

"And what are the Biriiiloff girls doing? 
They know all about it the next day, don't 
they? . . . ." And she burst into a ringing, sil- 
very laugh. 

" You are pleased to laugh constantly,"— re- 
turned Egor Kapitonitch.— " However, when 
should a person laugh, if not at your age? " 

" Egor Kapitonitch, don't get angry, my dear 
man ! Akh, I 'm tired ; allow me to sit down. . . ." 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna dropped into an arm- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


chair, and playfully pulled her hat down over her 
very eyes. 

Ipatoff led Vladimu- Sergyeitch up to her. 

" Permit me, Nadezhda Alexyeevna, to present 
to you our neighbour, Mr. Astakhoff, of whom 
you have, probably, heard a great deal." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch made his bow, while 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna looked up at him from 
under the brim of her round hat. 

" Nadezhda Alexyeevna Veretyeff, our neigh- 
bour,"— went on Ipatoff, turning to Vladimir 
Sergyeitch.—" She lives here with her brother, 
Piotr Alexyeitch, a retired lieutenant of the 
Guards. She is a great friend of my sister-in- 
law, and bears good will to our household in 

" A whole formal inventory,"— said Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna, laughing, and, as before, scanning 
Vladimir Sergyeitch from under her hat. 

But, in the meantime, Vladimir Sergyeitch was 
thinking to himself: " Why, this is a very pretty 
woman also." And, in fact, Nadezhda Alex- 
yeevna was a very charming young girl. Slender 
and graceful, she appeared much younger than 
she really was. She was already in her twenty- 
eighth year. She had a round face, a small head, 
fluffy fair hair, a sharp, almost audaciously up- 
turned little nose, and merry, almost crafty little 
eyes. Mockery fairly glittered in them, and 
kindled in them in sparks. Her features, ex- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tremely vivacious and mobile, sometimes assumed 
an almost amusing expression; humour peered 
forth from them. Now and then, for the most 
part suddenly, a shade of pensiveness flitted 
across her face,— and at such times it became 
gentle and kindly; but she could not surrender 
herself long to meditation. She easily seized 
upon the ridiculous sides of people, and dre^v 
very respectable caricatures. Everybody had 
petted her ever since she was born, and that is 
something which is immediately perceptible; 
people who have been spoiled in childhood pre- 
serve a certain stamp to the end of their lives. 
Her brother loved her, although he asserted that 
she stung, not like a bee, but like a wasp; be- 
cause a bee stings and then dies, whereas it sig- 
nifies nothing for a wasp to sting. This compari- 
son enraged her. 

" Have you come here for long? " — she asked 
Vladimir Sergyeitch, dropping her eyes, and 
twisting her riding-whip in her hands. 

"No; I intend to go away from here to- 

" Whither? '^ 

" Home." 

" Home? Why, may I venture to ask? " 

" What do you mean by * why '? I have a£Pairs 
at home which do not brook delay." 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna looked at him. 

" Are you such a . . . . punctual man? " 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" I try to be a punctual man,"— replied Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch,— " In our sedate era, every hon- 
ourable man must be sedate and pimctuaL" 

" That is perfectly just,"— remarked Ipatoff. 
— " Is n't that true Ivan llitch? " 
• Ivan flitch merely glanced at Ipatoff; but 
!Eg6r Kapitonitch remarked: 
^\" Yes, that 's so." 

" 'T is a pity,"— said Nadezhda Alexyeevna; 
— " precisely what we lack is a jeune premier. 
You know how to act comedy, I suppose? " 

" I have never put my powers in that line to 
the test." 

" I am convinced that you would act well. You 
have that sort of bearing . • • • a stately mien, 
which is indispensable in a jeune premier. My 
brother and I are preparing to set up a theatre 
here. However, we shall not act comedies 
only: we shall act all sorts of things— dramas, 
ballets, and even tragedies. Why would n't 
Masha do for Cleopatra or Phedre? Just look 
at her 1" 

Vladimir Sergyeitch turned round. . • . Marya 
Pavlovna was gazing thoughtfully into the dis- 
tance, as she stood leaning her head against the 
door, with folded arms. • • . At that moment, 
her regular features really did suggest the faces 
of ancient statues. She did not catch Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna's last words; but, perceiving that 
the glances of all present were suddenly directed 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


to her, she immediately divined what was going 
on, blushed, and was about to retreat into the 
drawing-room. . . • Nadezhda Alexyeevna 
briskly grasped her by the hand and, with the 
coquettish caressing action of a kitten, drew her 
toward her, and kissed that almost masculine 
hand. Marya Pavlovna flushed more vividly than 

" Thou art always playing pranks, Nadya,"— 
she said. 

" Did n't I speak the truth about thee? I 
am ready to appeal to all. . . . Well, enough, 
enough, I won't do it again. But I will say 
again,"— went on Nadezhda Alexyeevna, ad- 
dressing Vladimir Sergyeitch,— " that it is a pity 
you are going away. We have a jeune premier ^ 
it is true; he calls himself so, but he is very bad/* 

" Who is he? permit me to inquire." 

" Bodryakoff the poet. How can a poet be a 
jeune premier? In the first place, he dresses in 
the most frightful way; in the second place, he 
writes epigrams, and gets shy in the presence of 
every woman, even in mine. He lisps, one of his 
hands is always higher than his head, and I don't 
know what besides. Tell me, please, M'sieu 
Astakhoff, are all poets like that? " 

Vladimir Sergyeitch drew himself up slightly. 

" I have never known a single one of them, 
personally; but I must confess that I have never 
sought acquaintance with them." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Yes, you certainly are a positive man. We 
shall have to take Bodryakoff; there's nothing 
else to be done. Other jeunes premiers are even 
worse. That one, at all events, vpill learn his part 
by heart. Masha, in addition to tragic roles, will 
fill the post of prima donna. . . . You have n't 
heard her sing, have you, M'sieu Astakhofi^?" 

" No,"— replied Vladimir Sergyeitch, display- 
ing his teeth in a smile ; " and I did not know . . . ." 

" What is the matter with thee to-day, Na- 
dya? "—said Mary a Pavlovna, with a look of dis- 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna sprang to her feet. 

" For Heaven's sake, Masha, do sing us some- 
thing, please. • • • I won't let thee alone until 
thou singest us something, Masha dearest. I 
would sing myself, to entertain the visitors, but 
thou knowest what a bad voice I have. But, on 
the other hand, thou shalt see how splendidly I 
will accompany thee." 

Marya Pavlovna made no reply. 

" There 's no getting rid of thee,"— she said at 
last.—" Like a spoiled child, thou art accustomed 
to have all thy caprices humoured. I will sing, 
if you like." 

" Bravo, bravo! "—exclaimed Nadezhda Alex- 
yeevna, clapping her hands.—" Let us go into the 
drawing-room, gentlemen.— And as for caprices," 
— she added, laughing,— "I '11 pay you off for 
that! Is it permissible to expose my weaknesses 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


in the presence of strangers? Egor Kapitonitch, 
does Matryona Mdrkovna shame you thus before 

" Matryona Mdrkovna,"— muttered Egor Ka- 
pitonitch,— " is a very worthy lady; only, on the 
score of manners • . • ." 

" Well, come along, come along! ''— Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna interrupted him, and entered the 

All followed her. She tossed off her hat and 
seated herself at the piano. Marya Pavlovna 
stood near the wall, a good way from Nadezhda 

" Masha,"— said the latter, after reflecting a 
little,—" sing us ' The farm-hand is sowing tiie 
grain.' '' ' 

Marya Pavlovna began to sing. Her voice 
was pure and powerful, and she sang well— sim- 
ply, and without affectation. All listened to her 
with great attention, while Vladimir Sergyeitch 
could not conceal his amazement. When Marya 
Pavlovna had finished, he stepped up to her, and 
began to assure her that he had not in the least 
expected . . • . 

^ "Wait, there 's something more coming!'* — 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna interrupted him.— "M^- 
sha, I will soothe thy Topknot ^ soul:— Now sing 
us ' Humming, humming in the trees.' " 

^ A little Russian song.— Trawslator. 

^ The popular nickname among Great Russians for the Littie Rus- 
sians. — Translator. 


Digitized % VjOOQ IC 


" Are you a Little Russian? *'— Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch asked her, 

" I am a native of Little Russia," she replied, 
and began to sing " Humming, humming." 

At first she uttered the words in an indifferent 
manner; but the mournfully passionate lay of her 
fatherland gradually began to stir her, her cheeks 
flushed scarlet, her glance flashed, her voice rang 
out f ervently. She finished, 

"Good heavens 1 How well thou hast sung 
thatl"— said Nadezhda Alexyeevna, bending 
over the keys.— "What a pity that my brother 
was not herel" 

Marya Pavlovna instantly dropped her eyes, 
and laughed with her customary bitter little 

" You must give us something more,"— re- 
marked Ipatoff. 

" Yes, if you will be so good,"— added Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch. 

" Excuse me, I will not sing any more to-day," 
— said Marya Pavlovna, and left the room. 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna gazed after her, first 
reflected, then smiled, began to pick out 
/* The farm-hand is sowing the grain " with 
one finger, then suddenly began to play a bril- 
liant polka, and without finishing it, struck a 
loud chord, clapped to the lid of the piano, and 

" 'X is a .pity that there is no one to dance 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


with! "—she exclaimed.—" It would be just the 

Vladimir Sergyeiteh approached her, 

" What a magnificent voice Marj'^a Pavlovna 
has/'— he remarked;—" and with how much feel- 
ing she sings 1" 

" And are you fond of music? '* 

" Yes • . . • very." 

" Such a learned man, and you are fond of 
music! " 

" But what makes you think that I am 
learned? " 

" Akh, yes; excuse me, I am always forgetting 
that you are a positive man. But where has 
Marya Pavlovna gone? Wait, I '11 go after her." 

And Nadezhda Alexyeevna fluttered out of 
the drawing-room. 

"A giddy-pate, as you see,"— said Ipatoff, 
coming up to Vladimir Sergyeiteh; — "but the 
kindest heart. And what an education she re- 
ceived you cannot imagine; she can express 
herself in all languages. Well, they are wealthy 
people, so that is comprehensible." 

" Yes,"— articulated Vladimir Sergyeiteh, ab- 
stractedly,—" she is a very charming girl. But 
permit me to inquire. Was your wife also a native 
of Little Russia? " 

" Yes, she was, sir. My late wife was a Little 
Russian, as her sister Marya Pavlovna is. My 
wife, to tell the truth, did not even have a per- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


fectly pure pronunciation; although she was a 
perfect mistress of the Russian language, still 
she did not express herself quite correctly; they 
pronounce i^ ui, there, and their kha and zhe are 
peculiar also, you know; well, Marya Pavlovna 
left her native land in early childhood. But the 
Little Russian blood is still perceptible, is n't it? " 
" Marya Pavlovna sings wonderfully,"— re- 
marked Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

" Really, it is not bad. But why don't they 
bring us some tea? And where have the young 
ladies gone? 'T is time to drink tea." 

The young ladies did not return very speedily. 
In the meantime, the samovar was brought, the 
table was laid for tea. Ipatoff sent for them. 
Both came in together. Marya Pavlovna seated 
herself at the table to pour the tea, while Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna walked to the door opening 
on the terrace, and began to gaze out into the gar- 
den. The brilliant smnmer day had been suc- 
ceeded by a clear, calm evening; the sunset was 
flaming; the broad pond, half flooded with its 
crimson, stood a motionless mirror, grandly re- 
flecting in its deep bosom all the airy depths of 
the sky, and the house, and the trees turned up- 
side down, and had grown black, as it were. 
Everything was silent round about. There was 
no noise anywhere. 

"Look, how beautiful!"— said Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna to Vladimir Sergyeitch, as he ap- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


preached her;—" down below there, in the pond, 
a star has kindled its fire by the side of the light 
in the house; the house-light is red, the other 
is golden. And yonder comes grandmamma," — 
she added in a loud voice. 

From behind a clump of lilac-bushes a small 
calash made its appearance. Two men were 
drawing it. In it sat an old lady, all wrapped 
up, all doubled over, with her head resting on her 
breast. The ruffle of her white cap almost com- 
pletely concealed her withered and contracted 
little face. The tiny calash halted in front of the 
terrace. IpatofF emerged from the drawing- 
room, and his little daughters ran out after him. 
They had been constantly slipping from room 
to room all the evening, like little mice. 

" I wish you good evening, dear mother,"-^ 
said IpatofF, stepping up close to the old woman, 
and elevating his voice.—" How do you feel? " 

" I have come to take a look at you,''— said the 
old woman in a dull voice, and with an effort. — 
" What a glorious evening it is. I have been 
asleep all day, and now my feet have begun to 
ache. Okh, those feet of mine! They don't serve 
me, but they ache." 

* " Permit me, dear mother, to present to you 
our neighbour, Astakhoff, Vladimir Sergyeitch." 

" I am very glad to meet you,"— returned the 
old woman, scanning him with her large, black, 
but dim-sighted eyes.—" I beg that you will love 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


my son- He is a fine man; I gave him what 
education I could; of course, I did the best a 
woman could. He is still somewhat flighty, but, 
God willing, he will grow steady, and 't is high 
time he did; 't is time for me to surrender matters 
to him. Is that you, Nadya?"— added the old 
woman, glancing at Nadezhda Alexyeevna. 
" Yes, grandmamma." 
" And is Masha pouring tea? " 
** Yes, grandmamma, she is pouring tea." 
" And who else is there? " 
" Ivan Hitch, and Egor Kapitonitch." 
" The husband of Matryona Markovna? " 
" Yes, dear mother." 
The old woman mumbled with her lips. 
"Well, good. But why is it, Misha, that I 
can't manage to get hold of the overseer? Order 
him to come to me very early to-morrow morning; 
I shall have a great deal of business to arrange 
with him. I see that nothing goes as it should 
with you, without me. Come, that will do, I am 
tired; take me away. . . . Farewell, batiushka; * 
I don't remember your name and patronymic,"— 
she added, addressing Vladimir Sergyeitch. 
" Pardon an old woman. But don't come with 
me, grandchildren, it is n't necessary. All you 
care for is to run all the time. Masha spoils you. 
Well, start on." 

1 Literally, "dear little father": the genuinely Russian mode of 
address to a man of any class, as mdtuahha (** dear little mother ") is 
for women of all classes.— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


The old woman's head, which she had raised 
with difficulty, fell back again on her breast- . • . 

The tiny calash started, and rolled softly away. 

"How old is your mother? "—inquired Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch. 

" Only in her seventy-third year; but it is 
twenty-six years since her legs failed her; that 
happened soon after the demise of my late father. 
But she used to be a beauty." 

All remained silent for a while. 

Suddenly, Nadezhda Alexyeevna gave a start. 

" Was that— a bat flying past? Ai, what a 

And she hastily returned to the drawing- 

" It is time for me to go home, Mikhafl Niko- 
laitch; order my horse to be saddled." 

" And it is time for me to be going, too,"— 
remarked Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

" Where are you going? "—said Ipatoff.— 
" Spend the night here. Nadezhda Alexyeevna 
has only two versts to ride, while you have fully 
twelve. And what 's your hurry, too, Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna? Wait for the moon; it will soon be 
up now. It will be lighter to ride." 

" Very well,"— said Nadezhda Alexyeevna. 
— " It is a long time since I had a moonlight 

" And will you spend the night? "—Ipatoff 
asked Vladimir Sergyeitch. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Really, I don't know. . . However, if I do 
not incommode you • • • ." 

" Not in the lesust, I assure you; I will imme- 
diately order a chamber to be prepared for you." 

" But it is nice to ride by moonlight,"— began 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna, as soon as candles were 
brought, tea was served, and IpatofF and Egor 
Kapitonitch had sat down to play preference 
together, while The Folding Soul seated himself 
silently beside them:— " especially through the 
forest, between the walnut-trees. It is both terri- 
fying and agreeable, and what a strange play 
of light and shade there is— it always seems as 
though some one were stealing up behind you, 
or in front of you. . • ." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch smirked condescendingly. 

"And here 's another thing,"— she went on; 
— "have you ever happened to sit beside the 
forest on a warm, dark, tranquil night? At such 
times it always seems to me as though two per- 
sons were hotly disputing in an almost inaudible 
whisper, behind me, close at my very ear." 

" That is the blood beating,"— said Ipatoff. 

" You describe in a very poetical way,"— re- 
marked Vladimir Sergyeitch. Nadezhda Alex- 
yeevna glanced at him. 

" Do you think so? ... In that case, my de- 
scription would not please Masha." 

"Why? Is not Marya Pavlovna fond ofl 
poetry? " 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" No; she thinks all that sort of thing is made 
up— is all false; and she does not like that." 

"A strange reproach! "—exclaimed Vladimir 
Sergyeitch. " Made upl How could it be other- 
wise? But, after all, what are composers for? " 

"Well, there, that 's exactly the point; but 
I am sure you cannot be fond of poetry." 

" On the contrary, I love good verses, when 
they really are good and melodious, and — how 
shall I say it?— when they present ideas, 
thoughts. . . ." 

Marya Pavlovna rose. 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna turned swiftly toward 

" Whither art thou going, Masha? " 

" To put the children to bed. It is almost nine 

" But cannot they go to bed without thee? " 

But Marya Pavlovna took the children by the 
hand and went away with them. 

" She is out of sorts to-day,"— remarked Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna;— "and I know why,"— she 
added in an imdertone.- " But it will pass off." 

" Allow me to inquire,"— began Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch,—" where you intend to spend the win- 

"Perhaps here, perhaps in Petersburg. It 
seems to me that I shall be bored in Petersburg." 

" In Petersburg! Good gracious 1 How is that 
possible? " ^ 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


And Vladimir Sergyeitch began to describe all 
the comforts, advantages, and charm of life in 
our capital. Nadezhda Alexyeevna listened to 
him with attention, never taking her eyes from 
him. She seemed to be committing his features 
to memory, and laughed to herself from time to 
time. i 

" I see that you are very eloquent,''— she said i 
at last.—" I shall be obliged to spend the winter 
in Petersburg." 

" You will not repent of it,"— remarked Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch. 

" I never repent of anything; it is not worth 
the bother. If you have perpetrated a blimder, 
try to forget it as speedily as possible— that 's 

" Allow me to ask,"— began Vladimir Sergye- 
itch, after a brief pause, and in the French lan- 
guage;— "have you known Marya Pavlovna 

" Allow me to ask,"— retorted Nadezhda Alex- 
yeevna, with a swift laugh;—" why you have put 
precisely that question to me in French? " 

" Because .... for no partictdar reason. . . ." 

Again Nadezhda Alexyeevna laughed. 

" No; I have not known her very long. But 
she is a remarkable girl, is n't she? " 

"She is very original,"— said Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch, through his teeth. 

" And in your mouth— in the mouth of posi- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tive persons— does that constitute praise? I do 
not think so. Perhaps I seem original to you, 
also? But/'— she added, rising from her seat and 
casting a glance through the window,—" the 
moon must have risen; that is its light on the 
poplars. It is time to depart, . • . I will go 
and give order that Little Beauty shall be 

" He is already saddled, ma'am,"— said Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna's groom, stepping out from 
the shadow in the garden into a band of light 
which fell on the terrace. 

" Ah! Well, that 's very good, indeed 1 Ma- 
sha, where art thou? Come and bid me good- 

Marya Pavlovna made her appearance from 
the adjoining room. The men rose from the card- 

" So you are going already? "—inquired Ipa- 

" I am; it is high time." 

She approached the door leading into the gar- 

"What a night!"— she exclaimed.— " Come 
here; hold out yoiw face to it; do you feel how it 
seems to breathe upon you? And what fragrance! 
all the flowers have waked up now. They have 
waked up— and we are preparing to go to sleep. 
• • • . Ah, by the way, Mdsha,"— she added:— 
" I have told Vladimir Sergyeitch, you know, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


that thou art not fond of poetry. And now, fare- 
well . . . yonder comes my horse. . . ." 

And she ran briskly down the steps of the ter- 
race, swung herself lightly into the saddle, said, 
" Good-bye until to-morrow! "—and lashing her 
horse on the neck with her riding-switch, she gal- 
loped off in the direction of the dam. . . . The 
groom set off at a trot after her. 

All gazed after her. . • • 

" Until to-morrow 1 "—her voice rang out once 
more from behind the poplars. 

The hoof -beats were still audible for a long 
time in the silence of the summer night. At last, 
Ipatoff proposed that they should go into the 
house again. 

" It really is very nice out of doors,"— he said; 
— " but we must finish our game." 

All obeyed him. Vladimir Sergyeitch began 
to question Marya Pavlovna as to why she did not 
like poetry. 

"Verses do not please me,"— she returned, 
ivith apparent reluctance. 

"But perhaps you have not read many 

" I have not read them myself, but I have had 
them read to me." 

"And is it possible that they did not please 
you? " 

" No ; none of them." 

" Not even Pushkin's verses? " 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Not even Pushkin's." 


Marya Pavlovna made no answer; but Ipatoff, 
twisting round across the back of his chair, re- 
marked, with a good-natured laugh, that she not 
only did not like verses, but sugar also, and, in 
general, could not endure anything sweet. 

" But, surely, there are verses which are not 
sweet,"— retorted Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

" For example? "—Marya Pavlovna asked 

Vladimir Sergyeitch scratched behind his ear. 
.... He himself knew very few verses by heart, 
especially of the sort which were not sweet. 

"Why, here now,"— he exclaimed at last; — 
"do you know Pushkin's 'The Upas-Tree'?* 
No? That poem cannot possibly be called 

" Recite it,"— said Marya Pavlovna, dropping 
her eyes. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch first stared at the ceiling, 
frowned, mumbled something to himself, and at 
last recited " The Upas-Tree." 

After the first four lines, Marya Pavlovna 
slowly raised her eyes, and when Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch ended, she said, with equal slowness: 

^ The poem, after describing the deadly qualities of the upas-tree, 
narrates how a potentate sent one of his slaves to bring him flowers 
from it. The slave, thoroughly aware of bis danger, fulfilled his 
sovereign's behest, returned with branches of the tree, and dropped 
dead. — Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Please recite it again." 

" So these verses do please you? "—asked Vla- 
dimir Sergyeiteh. 

" Recite it again." 

Vladimir Sergyeiteh repeated "The Upas- 
Tree." Mdrya Pavlovna rose, went out into the 
next room, and returned with a sheet of paper, 
an inkstand and a pen. 

" Please write that down for me,"— she said to 
Vladimir Sergyeiteh. 

" Certainly; with pleasure,"-he replied, begin- 
ning to write.—" But I must confess that I am 
puzzled to know why these verses have pleased 
you so. I recited them simply to prove to you 
that not all verses are sweet." 

" So am I! "—exclaimed Ipatoff.— " What do 
you think of those verses, Ivan flitch? " 

Ivan Ilitch, according to his wont, merely 
glanced at Ipatoff , but did not utter a word. 

" Here, ma'am,— I have finished,"— said Vla- 
dimir Sergyeiteh, as he placed an interrogation- 
point at the end of the last line. 

Marya Pavlovna thanked him, and carried the 
written sheet off to her own room. 

Half an hour later supper was served, and an 
hour later all the guests dispersed to their rooms. 
Vladimir Sergyeiteh had repeatedly addressed 
Marya Pavlovna; but it was difiicult to conduct 
a conversation with her, and his anecdotes did 
not seem to interest her greatly. He probably 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


would have fallen asleep as soon as he got into 
bed had he not been hindered by his neighbour, 
Egor Kapitonitch. Matry6na Mdrkovna's hus- 
band, after he was fully undressed and had got 
into bed, talked for a very long time with his 
servant, and kept bestowing reprimands on him. 
Every word he uttered was perfectly audible to 
Vladimir Sergyeitch: only a thin partition sep- 
arated them. 

" Hold the candle in front of thy breast,'' — 
said Egor Kapitonitch, in a querulous voice; — 
" hold it so that I can see thy face. Thou hast 
aged me, aged me, thou conscienceless man — hast 
aged me completely." 

"But, for mercy's sake, Egor Kapitonitch, 
how have I aged you? "—the servant's dull and 
sleepy voice made itself heard. 

" How? I '11 tell thee how. How many times 
have I said to thee: ' Mitka,' I have said to thee, 
' when thou goest a-visiting with me, always take 
two garments of each sort, especially ' . . . . hold 
the candle in front of thy breast .... * especially 
underwear.' And what hast thou done to me 
to-day? " 

" What, sir? " 

" ' What, sir? ' What am I to put on to-mor- 

" Why, the same things you wore to-day, sir." 

" Thou hast aged me, malefactor, aged me. I 
was almost beside myself with the heat to-day, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


as it was. Hold the candle in front of thy breast, 
I tell thee, and don't sleep when thy master is 
talking to thee/' 

"Well, but Matryona Markovna said, sir, 
* That 's enough. Why do you always take such 
a mass of things with you? They only get worn 
out for nothing.' '* 

" Matryona Mdrkovna . • • • Is it a woman's 
business, pray, to enter into that? You have 
aged me. Okh, you have made me old before my 

" Yes; and Yakhim said the same thing, sir.'* 

" What 's that thou saidst? " 

" I say, Yakhim said the same thing, sir.'' 

"Yakhim! Yakhim!"— repeated Eg6r Kapi- 
tonitch, reproachfully.—" Ekh, you have aged 
me, ye accursed, and don't even know how to 
speak Russian intelligibly. Yakhim! Who 's Ya- 
khim I Efrim, — well, that might be allowed to 
pass, it is permissible to say that; because the 
genuine Greek name is Evthunius, dost under- 
stand me? . . . Hold the candle in front of thy 
breast. . . . So, for the sake of brevity, thou 
mayest say Efrim, if thou wilt, but not Yakhim 
by any manner of means. Yakhim!"* added 
Egor Kapitonitch, emphasising the syllable Ta. 
— "You have aged me, ye malefactors. Hold 
the candle in front of thy breast! " 

And for a long time, Egor Kapitonitch con- 

^ It shonld be Aklm, popular for Iak(othos» Hyacinth.— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



tinued to berate his servant, in spite of sighs, 
coughs, and other tokens of impatience on the 
part of Vladimir Sergyeitch. . . . 

At last he dismissed his Mitka, and fell asleep; 
but Vladimir Sergyeitch was no better off for 
that: Egor Kapitonitch snored so mightily and 
in so deep a voice, with such playful transition^ 
from high tones to the very lowest, with such 
accompanying whistlings, and even snappings, 
that it seemed as though the very partition were 
shaking in response to him; poor Vladimir 
Sergyeitch almost wept. It was very stifling 
in the chamber which had been allotted to him, 
and the feather-bed whereon he was lying 
embraced his whole body in a sort of crawling 

At last, in despair, Vladimir Sergyeitch rose, 
opened the window, and began with avidity to 
inhale the nocturnal freshness. The vdndow 
looked out on the park. It was light overhead, 
the round face of the full moon was now clearly 
reflected in the pond, and stretched itself out in 
a long, golden sheaf of slowly transfused span- 
gles. On one of the paths Vladimir Sergyeitch 
espied a figure in woman's garb; he looked 
more intently; it was Marya Pavlovna; in the 
moonlight her face seemed pale. She stood 
motionless, and suddenly began to speak. . . . 
Vladimir Sergyeitch cautiously put out his 
head* • • • 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" But a man — with glance imperious — 
Sent a man to the Upas-tree . . . /' 

reached his ear. ... 

" Come,"— he thought,— " the verses must 
have taken effect. . . ." 

And he began to listen with redoubled atten- 
tion. . . . But Marya Pavlovna speedily fell si- 
lent, and turned her face more directly toward 
him; he could distinguish her large, dark eyes, 
her severe brows and lips. . . . 

Suddenly, she started, wheeled round, entered 
the shadow cast by a dense wall of lofty acacias, 
and disappeared. Vladimir Sergyeitch stood for 
a considerable time at the window, then got into 
bed again, but did not fall asleep very soon. 

" A strange being,"— he thought, as he tossed 
from side to side;—" and yet they say that there 
is nothing particular in the provinces. . . . The 
idea! A strange being! I shall ask her to-mor- 
row what she was doing in the park." 

And Egor Kapitonitch continued to snore as 


On the following morning Vladimir Sergyeitch 
awoke quite late, and immediately after the gen- 
eral tea and breakfast in the dining-room, drove 
off home to finish his business on his estate, in 
spite of all old Ipatoff 's attempts to detain him. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Marya Pdvlovna also was present at the tea; but 
Vladimir Sergyeitch did not consider it neces- 
sary to question her concerning her late stroll of 
the night before; he was one of the people who 
find it difficult to surrender themselves for two 
days in succession to any unusual thoughts and 
assumptions whatsoever. He would have been 
obliged to discuss verses, and the so-called " poet- 
ical " mood wearied him very quickly. He spent 
the whole day until dinner in the fields, ate with 
great appetite, dozed oflT, and when he woke up, 
tried to take up the clerk's accounts; but be- 
fore he had finished the first page, he ordered his 
tarantas to be harnessed, and set off for Ipatoff 's. 
Evidently, even positive people do not bear about 
in their breasts hearts of stone, and they are no 
more fond of being bored than other plain mor- 

As he drove upon the dam he heard voices and 
the sound of music. They were singing Rus- 
sian ballads in chorus in Ipatoff's house. He 
found the whole company which he had left in 
the morning on the terrace; all, Nadezhda Ale- 
xyeevna among the rest, were sitting in a circle 
around a man of two-and-thirty— a swarthy- 
skinned, black-eyed, black-haired man in a vel- 
vet jacket, with a scarlet kerchief carelessly 
knotted about his neck, and a guitar in his hands. 
This was Piotr Alexyeevitch Veretyeff, brother 
of Nadezhda Alexyeevna. On catching sight of 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Vladimir Sergyeitch, old Ipatoff advanced to 
meet him with a joyful cry, led him up to Vere- 
tyeff, and introduced them to each other. After 
exchanging the customary greetings with his new 
acquaintance, Astakhoff made a respectful bow 
to the latter's sister. 

"We 're singing songs in country fashion, 
Vladimir Sergyeitch,"— began Ipatoff, and 
pointing to Veretyeff he added:— " Piotr Ale- 
xyeitch is our leader,— and what a leader! Just 
you listen to him! " 

" This is very pleasant,''— replied Vladimir 

" Will not you join the choir? "— Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna asked him. 

" I should be heartily glad to do so, but I have 
no voice." 

" That does n't matter! See, Egor Kapito- 
nitch is singing, and I 'm singing. All you have 
to do is to chime in. Pray, sit down ; and do thou 
strike up, my dear fellow! " 

" What song shall we sing now? "—said Vere- 
tyeff, thrumming the guitar; and suddenly stop- 
ping short, he looked at Marya Pavlovna, who 
was sitting by his side.—" I think it is your turn 
now,"— he said to her. 

" No; do you sing,"— replied Marya Pavlovna. 

"Here 's a song now: * Adown dear Mother 
Volga ' "—said Vladimir Sergyeitch, with im- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" No, we will save that up for the last," — re- 
plied Veretyeff , and tinkling the strings of the 
guitar, he struck up, in slow measure, " The sun 
is setting." 

He sang splendidly, dashingly, and blithely. 
His manly face, already expressive, became still 
more animated when he sang; now and then he 
shrugged his shoulders, suddenly pressed the 
strings with his palm, raised his arm, shook his 
curls, and darted a falcon-like look around him. 
More than once in Moscow he had seen the fa- 
mous Ilya, and he imitated him. The chorus 
chimed in lustily. Marya Pavlovna's voice sep- 
arated itself in a melodious flood from the other 
voices; it seemed to drag them after it; but she 
would not sing alone, and Veretyefi^ remained the 
leader to the end. 

They sang a great many other songs. . . . 

In the meantime, along with the evening 
shadows, a thunder-storm drew on. From noon- 
day it had been steaming hot, and thunder had 
kept rumbling in the distance; but now a broad 
thunder-cloud, which had long lain like a leaden 
pall on the very rim of the horizon, began to in- 
crease and show itself above the crests of the 
trees, the stifling air began to quiver more dis- 
tinctly, shaken more and more violently by the 
approaching storm; the wind rose, rustled the fo- 
liage abruptly, died into silence, again made a 
prolonged clamour, and began to roar; a sm'ly 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


gloom flitted over the earth, swiftly dispelling 
the last reflection of the sunset glow; dense clouds 
suddenly floated up, as though rending them- 
selves free, and sailed across the sky; a fine rain 
began to patter down, the lightning flashed in 
a red flame, and the thunder rumbled heavily and 

" Let us go,"— said old Ipatoff,— " or we shall 
be drenched." 

All rose. 

"Directly!"— exclaimed Piotr Alexyeitch.— 
" One more song, the last. Listen: 

''Akh, thou house, thou house of mine, 
Thou new house of mine . . . ." 

he struck up in a loud voice, briskly striking the 
strings of the guitar with his whole hand. " My 
new house of maple-wood," joined in the chorus, 
as though reluctantly carried away. Almost at 
the same moment, the rain hegan to heat down in 
streams; but Veretyefi^ sang " My house " to the 
end. From time to time, drowned by the claps of 
thunder, the dashing ballad seemed more dash- 
ing than ever beneath the noisy rattle and giu*- 
gling of the rain. At last the final detonation 
of the chorus rang out— and the whole company 
ran, laughing, into the drawing-room. Loudest 
of all laughed the little girls, Ipatoff^'s daughters, 
as they shook the rain-drops from their frocks. 
But, by way of precaution, Ipatoff closed the 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


window, and locked the door; and Egor Kapi- 
tonitch lauded him, remarking that Matryona 
M^rkovna also always gave orders to shut up 
whenever there was a thunder-storm, because elec- 
tricity is more capable of acting in an empty 
space. Bodryakoff looked him straight in the 
face, stepped aside, and overturned a chair. 
Such trifling mishaps were constantly happening 
to him. 

The thunder-storm passed over very soon. The 
doors and windows were opened again, and the 
rooms were filled with moist fragrance. Tea was 
brought. After tea the old men sat down to 
cards again. Ivan Ilitch joined them, as usual. 
Vladimir Sergyeitch was about to go to Marya 
Pavlovna, who was sitting at the window with 
Veretyeff; but Nadezhda Alexyeevna called 
him to her, and immediately entered into a 
fervent discussion with him about Petersburg 
and Petersburg life. She attacked it; Vladimir 
Sergyeitch began to defend it. Nadezhda Ale- 
xyeevna appeared to be trying to keep him by 
her side. 

"What are you wrangling about?"— in- 
quired Veretyeff, rising and approaching them. 

He swayed lazily from side to side as he 
walked; in all his movements there was percep- 
tible something which was not exactly careless- 
ness, nor yet exactly fatigue. 

" Still about Petersburg,"— replied Nadezhda 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Alexyeevna.— " Vladunir Sergyeitch cannot suf- 
ficiently praise it/' 

" 'T is a fine town,"— remarked Veretyeff^;— 
" but, in my opinion, it is nice everyivhere. By 
Heaven, it is. If one only has two or three 
women, and — pardon my frankness — wine, a 
man really has nothing left to wish for/' 

" You surprise me,"— retorted Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch. " Can it be possible that you are really 
of one opinion, that there does not exist for the 
cultured man . . . ." 

"Perhaps .... in fact .... I agree with 
you,"— interrupted Veretyeff^, who, notwith- 
standing all his courtesy, had a habit of not lis- 
tening to the end of retorts;— " but that 's not 
in my line; I 'm not a philosopher." 

" Neither am I a philosopher,"— replied Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch;—" and I have not the slightest 
desire to be one; but here it is a question of some- 
thing entirely different." 

Veretyeff cast an abstracted glance at his sis- 
ter, and she, with a faint laugh, bent toward him, 
and whispered in a low voice: 

"Petnisha, my dear, imitate Egor Kapito- 
nitch for us, please." 

Veretyeff 's face instantly changed, and. Hea- 
ven knows by what miracle, became remarkably 
like the face of Egor Kapitonitch, although 
the features of the two faces had absolutely no- 
thing in common, and Veretyeff himself barely 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


wrinkled up his nose and pulled down the comers 
of his lips. 

" Of course,"— he began to whisper, in a voice 
which was the exact counterpart of Egor Kapi- 
tonitch's,— " Matryona Markovna is a severe 
lady on the score of manners; but, on the other 
hand, she is a model wife. It is true that no 
matter what I may have said . . . .'' 

"The Biriuloff gu-ls know it all,''— put in 
Nadezhda AJexyeevna, hardly restraining her 

" Eveiything is known on the following day," 
—replied Veretyeff, with such a comical grim- 
ace, with such a perturbed sidelong glance, that 
even Vladimir Sergyeitch burst out laughing. 

" I see that you possess great talent for mimi- 
cry,"— he remarked. 

Veretyeff passed his hand over his face, his 
features resumed their ordinary expression, while 
Nadezhda AJexyeevna exclaimed: 

"Oh, yes! he can mimic any one whom he 
wishes. . . . He 's a master hand at that." 

"And would you be able to imitate me, for 
example?"— inquired Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

"I should think so! "—returned Nadezhda 
AJexyeevna:—" of course." 

"Akh, pray do me the favour to represent 
me,"— said Astakhoff, turning to Veretyeff.— 
" I beg that you will not stand on ceremony." 

" And so you too have believed her?" — replied 
Veretyeff, slightly screwing up one eye, and im- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


pa;i'ting to his voice the sound of Astakhoff 's 
voice, but so cautiously and slightly that only 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna noticed it, and bit her lips. 
— " Please do not believe her; she will tell you 
other untrue things about me/' 

"And if you only knew what an actor lie is!" 
— pursued Nadezhda Alexyeevna:— "he plays 
every conceivable sort of a part. And so splen- 
didly I He is our stage-manager, and our promp- 
ter, and everything you like. It 's a pity that 
you are going away so soon." 

" Sister, thy partiality blinds thee,"— re- 
marked Veretyeff , in a pompous tone, but still 
with the same touch of Astakhoff.—" What will 
Mr. Astakhoff think of thee?— He will regard 
thee as a rustic." 

" No, indeed,"— Vladimir Sergyeitch was be- 

" See here, Petnisha,"— interposed Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna;— "please show us how a drunken 
man is utterly unable to get his handkerchief out 
of his pocket; or no: show us, rather, how a boy 
catches a fly on the window, and how it buzzes 
under his fingers." 

"Thou art a regular child,"— replied Vere- 

Nevertheless he rose, and stepping to the 
window, beside which Marya Pavlovna was 
sitting, he began to pass his hand across the 
panes, and represent how a small boy catches 
a fly. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


The accuracy with which he imitated its pitiftil 
squeak was really amazing. It seemed as though 
a live fly were actually struggling under his fin- 
gers. Nadezhda Alexyeevna hurst out laugh- 
ing, and gradually every one in the room got to 
laughing. Marya Pavlovna's face alone under- 
went no change, not even her lips quivered. She 
sat with downcast eyes, hut raised them at last, 
and casting a serious glance at Veretyeff, she 
muttered through her set teeth: 

" What possesses you to make a clown of your- 

Veretyeff instantly turned away from the win- 
dow, and, after standing still for a moment in the 
middle of the room, he went out on the terrace, 
and thence into the garden, which had already 
grown perfectly dark. 

"How amusing that Piotr Alexyeitch is!"— 
exclaimed Egor Kapitonitch, slapping down the 
seven of trumps with a flourish on some one else's 
ace.—" Really, he 's very amusing! " 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna rose, and hastily ap- 
proaching Marya Pavlovna, asked her in an un- 

" What didst thou say to my brother? '* 
' " Nothing,"— replied the other. 

"What dost thou mean by * nothing'? Im- 

And after waiting a little, Nadezhda Alexye- 
evna said: " Come! "—took Mirya Pavlovna by 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


the hand, forced her to rise, and went off with 
her into the garden. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch gazed after the two 
young girls not without perplexity. iBut they 
were not absent long; a quarter of an hour later 
they returned, and Piotr Alexyeitch entered the 
room with them. 

"What a splendid night!" exclaimed Na- 
dezhda AJexyeevna, as she entered. — " How 
beautiful it is in the garden 1 " 

" Akh, yes. By the way,"— said Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch;— " allow me to inquire, Marya Pav- 
lovna, whether it was you whom I saw in the 
garden last night? " 

Marya Pavlovna gave him a swift look straight 
in the eyes. 

" Moreover, so far as I could make out, you 
were declaiming Pushkin's ' The Upas-Tree.' " 

Veretyeff frowned slightly, and he also began 
to stare at Astakhoff . 

" It really was I,"— said Marya Pavlovna;— 
" only, I was not declaiming anything; I never 

"Perhaps it seemed so to me,"— began Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch;— "but . . ." 

" It did seem so to you? "—remarked Marya 
Pavlovna, coldly. 

" What 's ' The Upas-Tree '? "-inquired Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna. 

"Why, don't you know? "—retorted Asta- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


khoff.— " Do you mean to say you don't remem- 
ber Pushkin's verses: * On the unhealthy, meagre 

" Somehow I don't remember. • . . That upas- 
tree is a poisonous tree, is n't it? " 


" Like the datura. . . . Dost remember, Masha, 
how beautiful the datura were on our balcony, in 
the moonlight, with their long, white blossoms? 
Dost remember what fragrance poured from 
them,— so sweet, insinuating, and insidious? ** 

"An insidious fragrance 1"— exclaimed Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch. 

" Yes; insidious. What are you surprised at? 
They say it is dangerous, but it is attractive. 
Why can evil attract? Evil should not be beau- 

" Oh, what theories 1 " — remarked Piotr 
Alexyeitch;— " how far away we have got from 
verses 1"' 

" I recited those verses yesterday evening to 
Marya Pavlovna," interposed Vladimir Sergye- 
itch;—" and they pleased her greatly." 

"Akh, please recite them,"— said Nadezhda 

" Certainly, madam." 

And Astakhoff recited " The Upas-Tree." 

" Too bombastic,"— ejaculated Veretyeff, as 
though against his will, as soon as Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch had finished. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" The poem is too bombastic? " 

" No, not the poem. . . . Excuse me, it seems 
to me that you do not recite with sufficient simpli- 
city. The thing speaks for itself; however, I 
may be mistaken/' 

" No, thou art not mistaken,'*— said Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna, pausing between her words, 

" Oh, yes; that is a matter of course 1 In thy 
eyes I am a genius, an extremely gifted man, 
who knows everything, can do everything; un- 
fortunately, he is overcome with laziness; is n't 
that so?" 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna merely shook her head. 

" I shall not quarrel with you; you must know 
best about that,"— remarked Vladimir Sergy6- 
itch, somewhat sulkily.—" That 's not in my 

" I made a mistake, pardon me,"— ejaculated 
Veretyeff , hastily. 

In the meantime, the game of cards had come 
to an end. 

" Akh, by the way,"— said Ipdtoff, as he rose; 
— " Vladimir Sergyeitch, one of the local landed 
proprietors, a neighbour, a very fine and worthy 
man, Akilin, Gavrfla Stepanitch, has commis- 
sioned me to ask you whether you will not do 
him the honour to be present at his ball,— that is, 
I just put it so, for beauty of style, and said 
' ball,' but it is only an evening party with danc- 
ing, quite informal. He would have called upon 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


you himself without fail, only he was afraid of 
disturbing you," 

" I am much obliged to the gentleman," — re- 
turned Vladimir Sergyeitch;— " but it is impera- 
tively necessary that I should return home. . . ." 

" Why— but when do you suppose the ball 
takes place? 'T is to-morrow. To-morrow is 
Gavrila Stepanitch's Name-day. One day more 
won't matter, and how much pleasure you will 
give himl And it 's only ten versts from here. 
If you will allow, we will take you thither." 

"Really, I don't know,"— began Vladimir 
Sergyeitch.— " And are you going? " 

" The whole family! And Nadezhda Alexye- 
evna and Piotr Alexyeitch,— everybody is 
going 1" 

" You may invite me on the spot for the fifth 
quadrille, if you like,"— remarked Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna.— " The first four are already be- 

" You are very kind; and are you already en- 
gaged for the mazurka? " 

" I? Let me think .... no, I think I am 

" In that case, if you will be so kind, I should 
like to have the honour . . . ." 

" That means that you will go? Very good. 

"Bravol"-exclamied Ipatoff.-" Well, Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch, you have put us under an ob- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ligation. Gavrflo Stepanitch will simply go into 
raptures. Is n't that so, Ivan tlitch? " 

Ivan llitch would have preferred to hold his 
peace, according to his wont, but thought it bet- 
ter to utter a sound of approval. 

" What possessed thee,"— said Pi6tr Alexye- 
itch an hour later to his sister, as he sat with her 
in a light two-wheeled cart, which he was driv- 
ing himself,— " what possessed thee to saddle 
thyself with that sour-visaged fellow for the 
mazurka? " 

" I have reasons of my own for that,"— replied 
Nadezhda Alexy6evna. 

" What reasons?— permit me to inquire." j 

" That 's my secret." 


And with his whip he lightly flicked the 
horse, which was beginning to prick up its 
ears, snort, and shy. It was frightened by 
the shadow of a huge willow bush which fell 
across the road, dimly illuminated by the 

"And shalt thou dance with Masha? "—Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna, in her turn, questioned her 

" Yes," he said indifferently. 

"Yes! yes!"— repeated Nadezhda Alexye- 
evna, reproachfully.— " You men,"— she added, 
after a brief pause,—" positively do not deserve 
to be loved by nice women." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Dost think so? Well, and that sour-visaged 
Petersburger— does he deserve it? " 
" Sooner than thou." 
And Piotr Alexyeiteh recited, with a sigh: 

** What a mission, O Creator, 
To be the brother of a grown-up sister! '* 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna burst out laughing. 

" I cause thee a great deal of trouble, there 's 
no denying that. I have a commission to thee." 

" Really?— I had n't the slightest suspicion of 

" I 'm speaking of Masha." 

"On what score?" 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna's face assumed a slight 
expression of pain. 

" Thou knowest thyself,"— she said softly. 

" Ah, I understand 1— What 's to be done, Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna, ma'am? I love to drink with 
a good friend, ma'am, sinful man that I am; 
I love it, ma'am." 

" Stop, brother, please don't talk like that! • . . 
This is no jesting matter." 

" Tram-tram-tam-poom! " — muttered Piotr 
Alexyeiteh through his teeth. 

" It is thy perdition, and thou jestest. • * ." 

"The farm-hand is sowing the grain, his wife 
does not agree ....'*' 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


struck up Piotr Alexyeitch loudly, slapped the 
horse with the reins, and it dashed onward at a 
brisk trot. 


On reaching home Veretyeff did not undress, and 
a couple of hours later, when the flush of dawn 
was just colouring the sky, he was no longer in 
the house. 

Half-way between his estate and Ipatofi^'s, on 
the very brink of a broad ravine, stood a small 
birch grove. The young trees grew very close 
together, and no axe had yet touched their grace- 
ful trunks; a shadow which was not dense, but 
continuous, spread from the tiny leaves on the 
soft, thin grass, all mottled with the golden heads 
of buttercups,^ the white dots of wood-campa- 
nula, and the tiny deep-crimson crosses of wild 
pinks. The recently-risen sun flooded the whole 
grove with a powerful though not brilliant light; 
dewdrops glittered everywhere, while here and 
there large drops kindled and glowed red; every- 
thing exhaled freshness, life, and that innocent 
triumph of the first moments of the morning, 
when everything is still so bright and still so 
silent. The only thing audible was the carolling 
voices of the larks above the distant fields, and 
in the grove itself two or three small birds were 

^The unpoetical Russian name is *' chicken-blindness'' (night- 
blindness). —Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


executing, in a leisurely manner, their brief songs, 
and then, apparently, listening to see how their 
performance had turned out. From the damp 
earth arose a strong, healthy scent; a pure, light 
breeze fluttered all about in cool gusts. Morn- 
ing, glorious morning, breathed forth from 
everything— everything looked and smiled of the 
morning, like the rosy, freshly-washed face of a 
baby who has just waked up. 

Not far from the ravine, in the middle of a 
small glade, on an outspread .cloak, sat Veretyeff. 
Marya Pavlovna was standing beside him, lean- 
ing against a birch-tree, with her hands clasped 
behind her. 

Both were silent. Marya Pavlovna was gaz- 
ing fixedly into the far distance; a white scarf 
had slipped from her head to her shoulders, the 
errant breeze was stirring and lifting the ends 
of her hastily-knotted hair. Veretyeff sat bent 
over, tapping the grass with a small branch. 

" Well,"— he began at last,—" are you angry 
with me?" 

Mdrya Pavlovna made no reply. 

Veretyeff darted a glance at her. 

" Mdsha, are you angry? "—he repeated. 

Marya Pavlovna scanned him with a swift 
glance from head to foot, turned slightly away, 
and said: 

" Yes." 

B88 / 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


"What for?"— asked Veretyeff, an{i flung 
away his branch. 

Again Mdrya Pavlovna made no reply. 

" But, as a matter of fact, you have a right to 
be angry with me,"— began Veretyeff, after a 
brief pause. — " You must regard me as a man 
who is not only frivolous, but even . • . ." 

"You do not understand me,"— interrupted 
Marya Pavlovna.—" I am not in the least angry 
with you on my own account." 

" On whose account, then? " 

" On your own." 

Veretyeff raised his head and laughed. 

"Ahl I understand! "—he said.— "Again 1 
again the thought is beginning to agitate you: 
' Why don't I make something of myself? ' Do 
you know what, Masha, you are a wonderful be- 
ing; by Heaven, you are! You worry so much 
about other people and so little about yourself. 
There is not a bit of egoism in you; really, really 
there is n't. There 's no other girl in the world 
like you. It 's a pity about one thing : I decidedly 
am not worthy of your affection; I say that with- 
out jesting.'' 

" So much the worse for you. You feel and do 
nothing."— Again Veretyeff laughed. 

"Mdsha, take your hand from behind your 
back, and give it to me,"— he said, with insinu- 
ating affection in his voice. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Maryri Pavlovna merely shrugged her shoul- 

" Give me your beautiful, honest hand; I want 
to kiss^ it respectfully and tenderly. Thus does 
a giddy-pated scholar kiss the hand of his con- 
descending tutor." 

And Veretyeff reached out toward Marya 

" Enough of thatl "—said she. " You are al- 
ways laughing and jesting, and you will jest 
away your life like that." 

" H'ml jest away my lifel A new expression! 
But I hope, Marya Pavlovna, that you used the 
verb ' to jest * in the active sense? " 

Marya Pavlovna contracted her brows. 

" Enough of that, Veretyeff,"— she repeated. 

" To jest away life,"— went on Veretyeff, half 
rising;— "but you are imagining me as worse 
than I am ; you are wasting your life in serious- 
ness. Do you know, Masha, you remind me of a 
scene from Pushkin's ' Don Juan.' You have 
not read Pushkin's * Don Juan'?" 

" No." 

" Yes, I had forgotten, you see, that you do 
not read verses.— In that poem guests come to a 
certain Laura; she drives them all away and 
remains alone with Carlos. The two go out on 
the balcony; the night is wonderful. Laura ad- 
mires, and Carlos suddenly begins to demon- 
strate to her that she will grow old in course of 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


time.—' Well/ replies Laura, ' it may be cold 
and rainy in Paris now, but here, with us, " thei 
night is redolent of orange and of laurel." Why 
make guesses at the future? ' Look around you, 
Masha; is it not beautiful here? See how every- 
thing is enjoying life, how young everything is. 
And are n't we young ourselves? " 

Veretyeff approached Marya Pavlovna; she 
did not move away from him, but she did not turn 
her head toward him. 

"Smile, Masha,"— he went on;— "only with 
your kind smile, not with your usual grin. I 
love your kind smile. Raise your proud, stern 
eyes.— What ails you? You turn away. Stretch 
out your hand to me, at least." 

" Akh, Veretyeff,"— began Masha;—" you 
know that I do not understand how to express 
myself. You have told me about that Laura. 
But she was a woman, you see. ... A woman 
may be pardoned for not thinking of the future." 

" When you speak, Masha,"— returned Vere- 
tyeff,— "you blush incessantly with self-love 
and modesty: the blood fairly flows in a crimson 
flood into your cheeks. I 'm awfully fond of that 
in you." 

Marya Pavlo^^la looked Veretyeff straight in 
the eye. 

" Farewell,"— she said, and threw her scarf 
over her head. 

Veretyeff held her back. " Enough, enough. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Stayl "—he cried—" Come, why are you going? 
Issue your commands ! Do you want me to enter 
the service, to become an agriculturist? Do you 
want me to publish romances with accompani- 
ment for the guitar; to print a collection of 
poems, or of drawings; to busy myself with 
painting, sculptiu'e, dancing on the rope? I '11 
do anjrthing, anything, anything you command, 
if only you will be satisfied with mel Come, 
really now, Mdsha, believe me." 

Again Marya Pavlovna looked at him. 

"You will do all that in words only, not in 
deeds. You declare that you will obey me . . . •" 

" Of course I do." 

" You obey, but how many times have I begged 
you . . . ." 

" What about? " 

Marya Pavlovna hesitated. 

" Not to drink liquor,"— she said at last. 

Veretyeff laughed. 

"Ekh, Masha! And you are at it, too! My 
sister is worrying herself to death over that also. 
But, in the first place, I 'm not a drunkard at 
all; and in the second place, do you know wjiy 
I drink? Look yonder, at that swallow. . . . 
Do you see how boldly it manages its tiny body, 
— and hurls it wherever it wishes? Now it has 
soared aloft, now it has darted downward. It has 
even piped with joy: do you hear? So that 's 
why I drink, Masha, in order to feel those same 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


sensations which that swallow experiences. • . ^ 
Hurl yourself whithersoever you will, soar where- 
soever you take a fancy . . . ." 

" But to what end? "—interrupted Masha. 

" What do you mean by that? What is one to 
live on then? " 

"But is n't it possible to get along without 
liquor? " 

" No, it is not; we are all damaged, rumpled. 
There 's passion .... it produces the same 
effect. That 's why I love you." 

" Like wine. . . . I 'm much obliged to you." 

"No, Masha, I do not love you like wine. 
Stay, I 'U prove it to you sometime,— when we are 
married, say, and go abroad together. Do you 
know, I am planning in advance how I shall lead 
you in front of the Venus of Milo. At this 
point it will be appropriate to say: 

** And when she stands with serious eyes 
Before the Chyprian of M ilos — 
, Twain are they, and the marble in comparison 
Suffers, it would seem, affront 

" What makes me talk constantly in poetry to- 
day? It must be that this morning is affecting 
me. What air 1 'T is exactly as though one were 
quaffing wine." 

** Wine again,"— remarked Marya Pdvlovna. 

" What of thatl A morning like this, and you 
with me, and not feel intoxicated I * With serious 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


eyes . . . / Yes,"— pursued Veretyeff, gazing 
intently at Marya Pavlovna,— " that is so. . . . 
For I remember, I have beheld, rarely, but yet I 
I have beheld these dark, magnificent eyes, I have 
beheld them tender 1 And how beautiful they 
are thenl Come, don't turn away, Masha; 
pray, smile at least .... show me your eyes 
merry, at all events, if they will not vouchsafe 
me a tender glance." 

" Stop, Veretyeff,"— said Marya Pavlovna. 
— *' Release me! It is time for me to go home." 

" But I 'm going to make you laugh,"— inter- 
posed Veretyeff; " by Heaven, I will make you 
laugh. Eh, by the way, yonder nms a hare. . . ." 

"Where?"— asked Marya Pavlovna. 

" Yonder, beyond the ravine, across the field of 
oats. Some one must have startled it; they don't 
run in the morning. I 11 stop it on the instant, 
if you like." 

And Veretyeff whistled loudly. The hare im- 
mediately squatted, twitched its ears, drew up its 
fore paws, straightened itself up, munched, 
sniffed the air, and again began to munch with 
its lips. Veretyeff promptly squatted down on 
his heels, like the hare, and began to twitch his 
nose, sniff, and munch like it. The hare passed 
its paws twice across its muzzle and shook it- 
self,— they must have been wet with dew,— stif- 
fened its ears, and bounded onward. Veretyeff 
rubbed his hands over his cheeks and shook him- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


self also. • . • Marya Pavlovna could not hold 
out, and burst into a laugh. 

" Bravo 1"— cried Veretyeff, springing up. 
" Bravo! That 's exactly the point— you are not 
a coquette. Do you know, if any fashionable 
young lady had such teeth as you have she would 
laugh incessantly. But that 's precisely why I 
love you, Masha, because you are not a fashion- 
able young lady, don't laugh without cause, and 
don't wear gloves on your hands, which it is a joy 
to kiss, because they are sunburned, and one feels 
their strength. . • • I love you, because you don't 
argue, because you are proud, taciturn, don't read 
books, don't love poetry . . . •" 

"I '11 recite some verses to you, shall I?"— 
Marya Pdvlovna interrupted him, with a certain 
peculiar expression on her face. 

"Verses?"— inquired Veretyeff, in amaze- 

" Yes, verses; the very ones which that Peters- 
burg gentleman recited last night." 

" ' The Upas-Tree ' again? .... So you really 
were declaiming in the garden, by night? That 's 
just like you. . . . But does it really please you 
so much? " 

" Yes, it does." 

"Recite it." 

Mdrya Pavlovna was seized with shyness. . . . 

"Recite it, recite it,"— repeated Veretyeff. 

Marya Pavlovna began to recite; Veretyeff 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


stood in front of her, with his arms folded on his 
breast, and bent himself to listen. At the first 
line Mdrya Pavlovna raised her eyes heaven- 
ward; she did not wish to encounter VeretyefF's 
gaze. She recited in her even, soft voice, which 
reminded one of the sound of a violoncello; but 
when she reached the Unes: 

"And the poor slave expired at the feet 
Of his invincible sovereign . • . .'' 

her voice began to quiver, her impassive, haughty 
brows rose ingenuously, like those of a Uttle girl, 
and her eyes, with involuntary devotion, fixed 
themselves on Veretyeff . . . . 

He suddenly threw himself at her feet and 
embraced her knees. 

" I am thy slave I "—he cried.—" I am at thy 
feet, thou art my sovereign, my goddess, my ox- 
eyed Hera, my Medea . . . ." 

Marya Pavlovna attempted to repulse him, 
but her hands sank helplessly in his thick curls, 
and, with a smile of confusion, she dropped her 
head on her breast. • • • 

Gavbila Stepanitch AkIlin, at whose house 
the ball was appointed, belonged to the category 
of landed proprietors who evoked the admiration 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


of the neighbours by their ingenuity in living well 
on very insignificant means. Although he did 
not own more than four hundred serfs, he was 
in the habit of entertaining the whole government 
in a huge stone mansion, with a tower and a flag 
on the tower, erected by himself. The property 
had descended to him* from his father, and 
had never been distinguished for being well 
ordered; Gavrfla Stepanitch had been an ab- 
sentee for a long time— had been in the ser- 
vice in Petersburg. At last, twenty-five years 
before the date of our story, he returned to 
his native place, with the rank of Collegiate 
Assessor,^ and, with a wife and three daughters, 
had simultaneously undertaken reorganisation 
and building operations, had gradually set up 
an orchestra, and had begun to give dinners. At 
first everybody had prophesied for him speedy 
and inevitable ruin; more than once rumours had 
become current to the effect that Gavrfla Stepa- 
nitch's estate was to be sold under the hammer; 
but the years passed, dinners, balls, banquets, 
concerts, f oUowed each other in their customary 
order, new bufldings sprang out of the earth like 
mushrooms, and stiU Gavrfla Stepanitch's estate 
was not sold under the hanmaer, and he himself 
continued to live as before, and had even grown 
stout of late. 

^ The dghth (cmt of fourteen) in Peter the Great's Table 
of Ranks. —Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Then the neighbours' gossip took another di- 
rection; they began to hint at certain vast sums 
which were said to be concealed; they talked of 
a treasure. ..." And if he were only a good 
farmer, . . . ." so argued the nobles among 
themselves; " but that 's just what he is n't, you 
know ! Not at all ! So it is deserving of surprise, 
and incomprehensible." However that may have 
been, every one went very gladly to Gavrfla Ste- 
panitch's house. He received his guests cordially, 
and played cards for any stake they liked. He 
was a grey-haired little man, with a small, pointed 
head, a yellow face, and yellow eyes, always care- 
fully shaven and perfumed with eau-de-cologne ; 
both on ordinary days and on holidays he wore 
a roomy blue dress-coat, buttoned to the chin, a 
large stock, in which he had a habit of hiding 
his chin, and he was foppishly fastidious about 
his linen; he screwed up his eyes and thrust out 
his lips when he took snuff, and spoke very po- 
litely and softly, incessantly employing the let- 
ter «.* 

In appearance, Gavrfla Stepanitch was not dis- 
tinguished by vivacity, and, in general, his ex- 
terior was not prepossessing, and he did not 
look like a clever man, although, at times, craft 
gleamed in his eye. He had settled his two el- 
der daughters advantageously; the yoimgest was 

^ ** S'," a polite addition to sentences, equivalent to a contraction 
of the words for ** sir " or " madam. "—Trakslator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


still at home, and of marriageable age. Gavrfla 
Stepaniteh also had a wife, an insignificant and 
wordless being. 

At seven o'clock in the evening, Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch presented himself at the Ipatoffs' in 
dress-suit and white gloves. He found them all 
entirely dressed; the little girls were sitting se- 
dately, afraid of mussing their starched white 
frocks; old Ipatoff, on catching sight of Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch in his dress-suit, affectionately 
upbraided him, and pointed to his own frock- 
coat; Marya Pavlovna wore a muslin gown of a 
deep rose colour, which was extremely becoming 
to her. Vladimir Sergyeitch paid her several 
compliments. Marya Pavlovna's beauty at- 
tracted him, although she was evidently shy of 
him; he also liked Nadezhda Alexyeevna, but her 
free-and-easy manners somewhat disconcerted 
him. Moreover, in her remarks, her looks, her 
very smiles, mockery frequently peeped forth, 
and this disturbed his citified and well-bred soul. 
He would not have been averse to making f im of 
others with her, but it was unpleasant to him to 
think that she was probably capable of jeering at 

The ball had already begun; a good many 
guests had assembled, and the home-bred orches- 
tra was crashing and booming and screeching in 
the gallery, when the Ipatoff family, accompa- 
nied by Vladimir Sergyeitch, entered the hall of 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


the Akilin house. The host met them at the very 
door, thanked Vladimir Sergyeitch for his tender 
procuration of an agreeable surprise,— that was 
the way he expressed himself,— and, taking Ipa- 
toff 's arm, he led him to the drawing-room, to 
the card-tables. Gavrfla Stepdnitch had re- 
ceived a bad education, and everything in his 
house, both the music and the furniture and the 
food and the wines, not only could not be called 
first-class, but were not even fit to be ranked as 
second-class. On the other hand, there was 
plenty of everything, and he himself did not put 
on airs, was not arrogant .... the nobles de- 
manded nothing more from him, and were en- 
tirely satisfied with his entertainment. At sup- 
per, for instance, the caviare was served cut up in 
chunks and heavily salted; but no one objected 
to your taking it in your fingers, and there was 
plenty wherewith to wash it down: wines which 
were cheap, it is true, but were made from grapes, 
nevertheless, and not some other concoction. The 
springs in Gavrfla Stepanitch's furniture were 
rather uncomfortable, owing to their stiffness 
and inflexibility ; but, not to mention the fact that 
there were no springs whatever in many of the 
couches and easy-chairs, any one could place un- 
der him a worsted cushion, and there was a great 
number of such cushions lying about, embroi- 
dered by the hands of Gavrfla Stepanitch's 
spouse herself —and then there was nothing left 
to desire. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


In a word, Gavrfla Stepdnitch's house could 
not possibly have been better adapted to the so- 
ciable and unceremonious style of ideas of the 
inhabitants of *** county, and it was solely ow- 
ing to Mr. Akilin's modesty that at the assem- 
blies of the nobility he was not elected Marshal, 
but a retired Major Podpekin, a greatly re- 
spected and worthy man, despite the fact that he 
brushed his hair over to the right temple from the 
left ear, dyed his moustache a lilac hue, and as 
he suffered from asthma, had of late fallen into 

So, then, the ball had already begun. They 
were dancing a quadrille of ten pairs. The cava- 
liers were the oflScers of a regiment stationed close 
by, and divers not very youthful squires, and two 
or three officials from the town. Everything 
was as it should be, everything was proceeding 
in due order. The Marshal of the Nobility 
was playing cards with a. retired Actual Coun- 
cillor of State,* and a wealthy gentleman, the 
owner of three thousand souls. The actual state 
councillor wore on his forefinger a ring with a 
diamond, talked very softly, kept the heels of his 
boots closely united, and did not move them from 
the position used by dancers of former days, and 
did not turn his head, which was half concealed 
by a capital velvet collar. The wealthy gentle- 
man, on the contrary, was constantly laughing at 
something or other, elevating his eyebrows, and 

1 The fourth finom the top in the Table of Ranks.— Teakslatok. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


flashing the whites of his eyes. The poet Bo- 
dryakoff, a man of shy and clumsy aspect, was 
chatting in a comer with the learned historian 
Evsiukoff: each had clutched the other by the 
button. Beside them, one noble, with a remark- 
ably long waist, was expounding certain auda- 
cious opinions to another noble who was timidly 
staring at his forehead. Along the wall sat 
the manmias in gay-hued caps; around the 
doors pressed the men of simple cut, young 
fellows with perturbed faces, and elderly fellows 
with peaceable ones; but one cannot describe 
everything. We repeat: everything was as it 
should be. 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna had arrived even ear- 
lier than the Ipatoffs; Vladimir Sergyeitch saw 
her dancing with a young man of handsome ap- 
pearance in a dandified dress-suit, with expres- 
sive eyes, thin black moustache, and gleaming 
teeth; a gold chain hung in a semicircle on his 
stomach. Nadezhda Alexyeevna wore a light- 
blue gown with white flowers; a small garland of 
the same flowers encircled her curly head; she was 
smiling, fluttering her fan, and gaily gazing 
about her; she felt that she was the queen of 
the ball. Vladimir Sergyeitch approached her, 
made his obeisance, and looking her pleasantly in 
the face, he asked her whether she remembered 
her promise of the day before. 

"What promise? '^ 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

'' Why, that you would dance the mazurka with 


" Yes, of course I will dance it with you." 

The young man who stood alongside Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna suddenly flushed crimson. 

"You have probably forgotten, mademoiselle," 
— he began,—" that you had already previously 
promised to-day's mazurka to me." 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna became confused. 

" Akh! good heavens, what am I to do? " — she 
said:— " excuse me, pray, M'sieu Steltchinsky, 
I am so absent-minded; I really am ashamed. . . ." 

M'sieu Steltchinsky made no reply, and merely 
dropped his eyes; Vladimir Sergyeitch assumed 
a slight air of dignity. 

" Be so good, M'sieu Steltchinsky,"— went on 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna; "you and I are old ac- 
quaintances, but M'sieu Astakhoff is a stranger 
among us ; do not place me in an awkward posi- 
tion: permit me to dance with him.'* 

" As you please,"— returned the young man. — 
" But you must begin." 

" Thanks,"— said Nadezhda Alexyeevna, and 
fluttered off^ to meet her vis-a-vis. 

Steltchinsky followed her with his eyes, then 
looked at Vladimir Sergyeitch. Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch, in his turn, looked at him, then stepped 

The quadrille soon came to an end. Vladimir 
Sergyeitch strolled about the hall a little, then 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


he betook himself to the drawing-room and 
paused at one of the card-tables. Suddenly he 
felt some one touch his hand from behind; he 
turned round— before him stood Steltchinsky. 

" I must have a couple of words with you in 
the next room, if you will permit,"— said the lat- 
ter, in French, very courteously, and with an 
accent which was not Russian. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch followed him. 

Steltchinsky halted at a window. 

" In the presence of ladies,"— he began, in the 
same language as before,—" I could not say any- 
thing else than what I did say; but I hope you 
do not think that I really intend to surrender to 
you my right to the mazurka with M-Ue Vere- 

Vladimir Sergyeitch was astounded. 

" Why so? "-he asked. 

" Because, sir,"— replied Steltchinsky, quietly, 
laying his hand on his breast and inflating his 
nostrils,—" I don't intend to,— that 's all." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch also laid his hand on his 
breast, but did not inflate his nostrils. 

" Permit me to remark to you, my dear sir,"— 
he began,—" that by this course you may drag 
M-Ue Veretyeff^ into unpleasantness, and I as- 
sume . . . ." 

" That would be extremely impleasant to me, 
but no one can prevent your declining, declar- 
ing that you are ill, or going away. . . ." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" I shall not do it. For whom do you take 

" In that case, I shall be compelled to demand 
satisfaction from you." 

" In what sense do you mean . • . . satisfac- 
tion? " 

" The sense is evident." 

" You will challenge me to a duel? " 

" Precisely so, sir, if you do not renounce the 

Steltchinsky endeavoured to utter these words 
as negligently as possible. Vladimir Sergyeitch's 
heart set to beating violently. He looked his 
wholly unexpected antagonist in the face. 
" Phew, O Lord, what stupidity! " he thought. 

"You are not jesting?"— he articulated 

" I am not in the habit of jesting in general," 
—replied Steltchinsky, pompously;— " and par- 
ticularly with people whom I do not know. You 
will not renounce the mazurka? "—he added, 
after a brief pause. 

" I will not,"— retorted Vladimir Sergyeitch, 
as though deliberating. 

" Very good! We will fight to-morrow." 


" To-morrow morning my second will call 
upon you." 

And with a courteous inclination, Steltchinsky 
withdrew, evidently well pleased with himself. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Vladimir Sergyeitch remained a few minutes 
longer by the window. 

"Just look at that, now!''— he thought.— 
" This is the result of thy new acquaintances! 
What possessed me to come? Good! Splendid! " 

But at last he recovered himself, and went out 
into the hall. 

In the hall they were already dancing the 
polka. Before Vladimir Sergyeitch's eyes Marya 
Pavlovna flitted past with Piotr Alexyeitch, 
whom he had not noticed up to that moment; 
she seemed pale, and even sad; then Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna darted past, all beaming and joyous, 
with some youthful, bow-legged, but fiery artil- 
lery ofiicer; on the second round, she was danc- 
ing with Steltchinsky. Steltchinsky shook his 
hair violently when he danced. 

" Well, my dear fellow,"— suddenly rang out 
Ipatoff's voice behind Vladimir Sergyeitch's 
back;—" you 're only looking on, but not danc- 
ing yourself? Come, confess that, in spite of the 
fact that we live in a dead-calm region, so to 
speak, we are n't badly off, are we, hey? " 

" Good! damn the dead-calm region! " thought 
Vladimir Sergyeitch, and mumbling something 
in reply to Ipatoff, he went off to another cor- 
ner of the hall. 

" I must hunt up a second,"— he pursued his 
meditations;—" but where the devil am I to find 
one? I can't take Veretyeff ; I know no others; 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


the devil only knows what a stupid affair this 

Vladimir Sergyeitch, when he got angry, was 
fond of mentioning the devil. 

At this moment, Vladimir Sergyeitch's eyes 
fell upon The Folding Soul, Ivan flitch, stand- 
ing idly by the window. 

" Would n't he do? "—he thought, and shrug- 
ging his shoulders, he added almost aloud:—" I 
shall have to take him." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch stepped up to him. 

" A very strange thing has just happened to 
me,"— began our hero with a forced smile:— 
"just imagine some young man or other, a 
stranger to me, has challenged me to a duel; it is 
utterly impossible for me to refuse; I am in 
indispensable need of a second: will not you 
act? " 

Although Ivan Ilitch was characterised, as we 
know, by imperturbable indifference, yet such 
an unexpected proposition startled even him. 
Thoroughly perplexed, he riveted his eyes on 
Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

" Yes,"— repeated Vladimir Sergyeitch;— " I 
should be greatly indebted to you. I am not ac- 
quainted with any one here. You alone . . . ." 

"I can't,"— said Ivan Ilitch, as though just 
waking up;—" I absolutely can't." 

"Why not? You are afraid of unpleasant- 
ness; but aU this will, I hope, remain a secret. . • ." 


Digitized by VjOOQ LC 


As he spoke these words, Vladimir Sergyeitch 
felt himself blushing and growing confused. 

" Excuse me, I can't possibly,"— repeated 
Ivan llitch, shaking his head and drawing back, 
in which operation he again overturned a chair. 

For the jfirst time in his life it was his lot to 
reply to a request by a refusal; but then, the re- 
quest was such a queer one ! 

"At any rate,"— pursued Vladimir Sergye- 
itch, in an agitated voice, as he grasped his hand, 
— " do me the favour not to speak to any one con- 
cerning what I have said to you. I earnestly 
entreat this of you." 

" I can do that, I can do that,"— hastily re- 
plied Ivdn llitch;— "but the other thing I can- 
not do, say what you wiU; I positively am 
unable to do it." 

" Well, very good, very good,"— said Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch; — " but do not forget that I rely 
on your discretion. ... I shall announce to- 
morrow to that gentleman," he muttered to him- 
self with vexation,—" that I could not find a 
second, so let him make what arrangements he 
sees fit, for I am a stranger here. And the devil 
prompted me to apply to that gentleman I But 
what else was there for me to do? "' 

Vladimir Sergyeitch was very, very imlike his 
usual' self. 

In the meantime, the ball went on. Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch would have greatly liked to de- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC , 


part at once, but departure was not to be thought 
of until the end of the mazurka. How was he 
to give up to his delighted antagonist? Unhap- 
pily for Vladimir Sergyeitch, the dances were 
in charge of a free-and-easy young gentleman 
with long hair and a sunken chest, over which, 
in semblance of a miniature waterfall, meandered 
a black satin neckcloth, transfixed with a huge 
gold pin. This young gentleman had the repu- 
tation, throughout the entire government, of be- 
ing a man who had assimilated, in their most 
delicate details, all the customs and rules of the 
highest society, although he had lived in Peters- 
burg only six months altogether, and had not suc- 
ceeded in penetrating any loftier heights than the 
houses of Collegiate Assessor Sandaraki and his 
brother-in-law. State Councillor Kostandaraki. 
He superintended the dances at all balls, gave the 
signal to the musicians by clapping his hands, 
and in the midst of the roar of the trumpets and 
the squeaking of the violins shouted: " En avant 
deuxt '' or " Grande chainel ^^ or" A vovSj made- 
moiselle! '^ and was incessantly flying, all pale 
and perspiring, through the hall, slipping head- 
long, and bowing and scraping. He never began 
the mazurka before midnight. " And that is a 
concession,"— he was wont to say;— "in Peters- 
burg I would keep you in torment imtil two 

This ball seemed very long to Vladimir Ser- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


gyeitch. He prowled about like a shadow from 
hall to drawing-room, now and again exchanging 
cold glances with his antagonist, who never 
missed a single dance, and undertook to invite 
Marya Pavlovna for a quadrille, but she was 
already engaged— and a couple of times he ban- 
died words with the anxious host, who appeared 
to be harassed by the tedium which was written 
on the countenance of the new guest. At last, 
the music of the longed-for mazurka thimdered 
out. Vladimir Sergyeitch hunted up his lady, 
brought two chairs, and seated himself with her, 
near the end of the circle, almost opposite Stel- 

The young man who managed affairs was in 
the first pair, as might have been expected. With 
what a face he began the mazurka, how he 
dragged his lady after him, how he beat the floor 
with his foot, and twitched his head the while,— 
all this is almost beyond the power of human pen 
to describe. 

" But it seems to me, M'sieu Astakhoff, that 
you are bored,"— began Nadezhda Alexyeevna, 
suddenly turning to Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

"I? Not in the least. What makes you think 

" Why, because I do from the expression of 
your face. . . . You have never smiled a single 
time since you arrived. I had not expected that 
of you. It is not becoming to you positive gen- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tlemen to be misanthropical and to frown it. la 
Byron. Leave that to the authors." 

" I notice, Nadezhda Alexyeevna, that you 
frequently call me a positive man, as though 
mockingly. It must be that you regard me as 
the cJoldest and most sensible of beings, incapable 
of anything which .... But do you know, I will 
tell you something; a positive man is often very 
sad at heart, but he does not consider it neces- 
sary to display to others what is going on there 
inside of him; he prefers to hold his peace." 

" What do you mean by that? "—inquired Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna, surveying him with a glance. 

" Nothing, ma'am,"— replied Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch, with feigned indifference, assuming an 
air of mystery. 

" Really? " 

" Really, nothing. . . . You shall know some 
day, later on." 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna wanted to pursue her 
questions, but at that moment a young girl, the 
host's daughter, led up to her Steltchinsky and 
another cavalier in blue spectacles. 

" Life or death? "—she asked in French. 

" Life," — exclaimed Nadezhda Alexyeevna ; 
" I don't want death just yet." 

Steltchinsky bowed; she went off with him.* 

1 The figures in the mazurka are like those in the cotillon (which is 
often danced the same evening), but the step is very animated and 
original. — Traksiator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


The cavalier in the blue glasses, who was called 
Death, started off with the host's daughter. Stel- 
tchinsky had invented the two designations. 

" Tell me, please, who is that Mr. Steltchin- 
sky? "—inquired Vladimir Sergyeitch of Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna, as soon as the latter returned 
to her place. 

" He is attached to the Governor's service, and 
is a very agreeable man. He does not belong in 
these parts. He is somewhat of a coxcomb, but 
that runs in the blood of all of them. I hope you 
have not had any explanations with him on ac- 
count of the mazurka? " 

" None whatever, I assure you,"— replied Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch, with a little hesitation. 

" I 'm such a forgetful creature I You can't 

" I am bound to be delighted with your f or- 
getfulness: it has afforded me the pleasure of 
dancing with you to-night." * 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna gazed at him, with her 
eyes slightly narrowed. 

" Really? You find it agreeable to dance with 

Vladimir Sergyeitch answered her with a com- 
pliment. Little by little he got to talking freely. 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna was always charming, and 
particularly so that evening; Vladimir Sergye- 
itch thought her enchanting. The thought of the 
duel on the morrow, while it fretted his nerves, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


imparted brilliancy and vivacity to his remarks; 
under its influence he permitted himself slight ex- 
aggerations in the expression of his feelings. . . . 
" I don't care! " he thought. Something myste- 
rious, involuntarily sad, something elegantly- 
hopeless peeped forth in all his words, in his 
suppressed sighs, in his glances which suddenly 
darkened. At last, he got to chattering to 
such a degree that he began to discuss love, 
women, his future, the manner in which he con- 
ceived of happiness, what he demanded of 
Fate. . . • He explained himself allegorically, 
by hints. On the eve of his possible death, 
Vladimir Sergyeitch flirted with Nadezhda 

She listened to him attentively, laughed, shook 
her head, now disputed with him, again pre- 
tended to be incredulous. . . . The conversa- 
tion, frequently interrupted by the approach of 
ladies and cavaliers, took a rather strange turn 
toward the end. . . . Vladimir Sergyeitch had 
already begun to interrogate Nadezhda Alexye- 
evna about herself, her character, her sympathies. 
At first she parried the questions with a jest, 
then, suddenly, and quite unexpectedly to Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch, she asked him when he was 
going away. 

" Whither? "—he said, in surprise. 

" To your own home." 

"To Sdsovo?" 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" No, home, to your village, a hundred versts 
from here." 

Vladimir Sergyeitch east down his eyes. 

" I should like to go as promptly as possible," 
—he said with a preoccupied look on his face.— 
" To-morrow, I think . . • . if I am alive. For 
I have business on hand. But why have you 
suddenly taken it into your head to ask me about 

" Because I have! "—retorted Nadezhda Ale- 

" But what is the reason? " 

"Because I have!"— she repeated.— " I am 
surprised at the curiosity of a man who is going 
away to-morrow, and to-day wants to find out 
about my character. ..." 

" But, pardon me . . . ." began Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch. . . . 

" Ah, here, by the way .... read this," — Na- 
dezhda Alexyeevna interrupted him with a laugh, 
as she handed him a motto-slip of paper from 
bonbons which she had just taken from a small 
table that stood near by, as she rose to meet Ma- 
rya Pavlovna, who had stopped in front of her 
with another lady. 

Marya Pavlovna was dancing with Piotr 
Alexyeitch. Her face was covered with a flush, 
and was flaming, but not cheerful. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch glanced at the slip of 
paper; thereon, in wretched French letters, was 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


^^ Qui me nSglige me perd/' 

He raised his eyes, and encountered Steltchin- 
sky's gaze bent upon him. Vladimir Sergyeitch 
smiled constrainedly, threw his elbow over the 
back of the chair, and crossed his legs— as much 
as to say: " I don't care for thee! " 

The fiery artillery ofiioer brought Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna up to her chair with a dash, pirou- 
etted gently in front of her, bowed, clicked his 
spurs, and departed. She sat down. 

" Allow me to inquire,"— began Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch, with pauses between his words,— "in 
what sense I am to understand this billet? . . . ." 

" But what in the world does it say? "—said 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna. — " Ah, yes I ^ Qui me 
neglige me perdf Well! that 's an admirable 
rule of life, which may be of service at every step. 
In order to make a success of anything, no mat- 
ter what, one must not neglect anything whatso- 
ever. . . . One must endeavour to obtain every- 
thing; perhaps one will obtain something. But 
I am ridiculous. I .... I am talking to you, 
a practical man, about rules of life. . . ." 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna burst into a laugh, and 
Vladimir Sergyeitch strove, in vain, to the very 
end of the mazurka, to renew their previous con- 
versation. Nadezhda Alexyeevna avoided it with 
the perversity of a capricious child. Vladimir 
Sergyeitch talked to her about his sentiments, 
and she either did not reply to him at all, or else 
she called his attention to the gowns of the ladies, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


to the ridiculous faces of some of the men, to the 
skill with which her brother danced, to the beauty 
of Marya Pavlovna; she began to talk about 
music, about the day before, about Egor Kapi- 
tonitch and his wife, Matryona Markovna .... 
and only at the very close of the mazurka, when 
Vladimir Sergyeitch was beginning to make her 
his farewell bow, did she say, with an ironical 
smile on her lips and in her eyes: 

" So you are positively going to-morrow? " 
"Yes; and very far away, perhaps," -^ said 
Vladimir Sergyeitch, significantly. 
" I wish you a happy journey." 
And Nadezhda Alexyeevna swiftly ap- 
proached her brother, merrily whispered some- 
thing in his ear, then asked aloud: 

" Grateful to me? Yes? art thou not? other- 
wise he would have asked her for the mazurka." 
He shrugged his shoulders, and said: 
" Nevertheless, nothing will come of it. . . ." 
She led him off into the drawing-room. 
"The flirt!"— thought Vladimir Sergyeitch, 
and taking his hat in his hand, he slipped un- 
noticed from the hall, hunted up his footman, 
to whom he had previously given orders to hold 
himself in readiness, and was already donning 
his overcoat, when suddenly, to his intense siu*- 
prise, the lackey informed him that it was im- 
possible to depart, as the coachman, in some 
unknown manner, had drunk to intoxication, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


and that it was utterly impossible to arouse him. 
After cursing the coachman in a remarkably 
brief but extremely powerful manner (this took 
place in the anteroom, outside witnesses were 
present), and informing his footman that if the 
|[X)achman was not in proper condition by day- 
light to-morrow, then no one in the world would 
be capable of picturing to himself what the result 
would be, Vladimir Sergyeitch returned to the 
hall, and requested the major-domo to allot him 
a chamber, without waiting for supper, which 
was already prepared in the drawing-room. The 
master of the house suddenly popped up, as it 
were, out of the floor, at Vladimir Sergyeitch's 
very elbow (Gavrfla Stepdnitch wore boots with- 
out heels, and therefore moved about without the 
slightest sound), and began to hold him back, 
assuring him that there would be caviar of the 
very best quality for supper; but Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch excused himself on the plea of a head- 
ache. Half an hour later he was lying in a 
small bed, under a short coverlet, and trying to 
get to sleep. 

But he could not get to sleep. Toss as he 
would from side to side, strive as he would to 
think of something else, the figure of Steltchin- 
sky importunately towered up before him. • . . 
Now he is taking aim . . . now he has fired. 
. . • • "AstakhofF is killed," says some one. 
Vladunir Sergyeitch could not be called a brave 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


man, yet he was no coward; but even the 
thought of a duel, no matter with whom, had 
never once entered his head. . • . Fight 1 with 
his good sense, peaceable disposition, respect 
for the conventions, dreams of future prosperity, 
and an advantageous marriage! If it had not 
been a question of his own person, he would 
have laughed heartily, so stupid and ridiculous 
did this affair seem to him. Fight! with whom, 
and about what? ! 

"Phew! danm it! what nonsense! "—he 
exclaimed involuntarily aloud.— " Well, and 
what if he really does kill me? "—he con- 
tinued his meditations;—" I must take measures, 
make arrangements. . . . Who will mourn for 

And in vexation he closed his eyes, which were 
staringly-wide open, drew the coverlet up 
around his neck .... but could not get to sleep, 
nevertheless. . . . 

Dawn was already breaking, and exhausted 
with the fever of insonmia, Vladimir Sergy6itch 
was beginning to fall into a doze, when suddenly 
he felt some weight or other on his feet. He 
opened his eyes. . . . On his bed sat Veretyeff. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch was greatly amazed, es- 
pecially when he noticed that Veretyeff had no 
coat on, that beneath his unbuttoned shirt his 
bare breast was visible, that his hair was tum- 
bling over his forehead, and that his very face 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


appeared changed. Vladimir Sergyeitch got 
half-way out of bed, • • . 

" Allow me to ask • • • •" he began, throwing 
his hands apart. • • • ^ 

" I have come to you,"— said Veretyeff, in a 
hoarse voice;—" excuse me for coming in such a 
guise. . . • We have been drinking a bit yonder. 
I wanted to put you at ease. I said to myself: 
* Yonder hes a gentleman who, in all probabiUty, 
cannot get to sleep.— Let 's help him.'— Under- 
stand; you are not going to fight to-morrow, and 
can go to sleep " 

Vladimir Sergyeitch was still more amazed 
than before. 

" What was that you said? ''—he muttered. 

" Yes; that has all been adjusted,"— went on 
Veretyeff;- "that gentleman from the banks 
of the Visla .... Steltchinsky .... makes 
his apologies to you .... to-morrow you will ^ 
receive a letter. ... I repeat to you:— all is set- 
tled. • • . Snore away." 

So saying, Veretyeff rose, and directed his 
course, with unsteady steps, toward the door. 

"But permit me, permit me,"— began Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch.—" How could you have found 
out, and how can I believe . . . ." 

" Akh! you think that I . . . . you know . . . ." 
(and he reeled forward slightly) . ..." I tell 
you ... he will send a letter to you to-morrow. 
.... You do not arouse any particular sym- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


pathy in me, but magnanimity is my weak side. 
But what 's the use of talking. ... It 's all 
nonsense anyway. . . . But confess,"— he added, 
with a wink;— "you were pretty well scared, 
were n't you, hey? " 

Vladimir Sergyeitch flew into a rage. 

" Permit me, in conclusion, my dear sir," — said 
he. . . . 

" Well, good, good,"— Veretyeff interrupted 
him with a good-natured smile.—" Don't fly into 
a passion. Evidently you are not aware that no 
ball ever takes place without that sort of thing. 
That 's the established rule. It never amounts 
to anything. Who feels like exposing his brow? 
Well, and why not bluster, hey? at newcomers, 
for instance? In vino Veritas. However, neither 
you nor I know Latin. But I see by your face 
that you are sleepy. I wish you good night, Mr. 
Positive Man, well-intentioned mortal. Accept 
this wish from another mortal who is n't worth 
a brass farthing himself. Addio, mio caro! '' 

And Veretyefi^ left the room. 

"The devil knows what this means!"— ex- 
claimed Vladimir Sergyeitch, after a brief pause, 
banging his fist into the pillow;— "no one ever 
heard the like! . . . this must be cleared up! I 
won't tolerate this! " 

Nevertheless, five minutes later he was already 
sleeping softly and profoundly. . . . Danger 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


escaped fills the soul of man with sweetness, and 
softens it. 

This is what had taken place before that un- 
anticipated nocturnal interview between Vere- 
tyeff and Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

In Gavrfla Stepanitch's house lived his grand- 
nephew, who occupied bachelor quarters in the 
lower story. When there were balls on hand, 
the young men dropped in at his rooms between 
the dances, to smoke a hasty pipe, and after 
supper they assembled there for a friendly 
drinking-bput. A good many of the guests had 
dropped in on him that night. Steltchinsky and 
VeretyefF were among the number; Ivan tlitch. 
The Folding Soul, also wandered in there in the 
wake of the others. They brewed a punch. Al- 
though Ivan llitch had promised Astakhofi^ that 
he would not mention the impending duel to any 
one whomsoever, yet, when Veretyefi^ acciden- 
tally asked him what he had been talking about 
with that glum fellow (VeretyefF never alluded 
to Ast^khoff otherwise) , The Folding Soul could 
not contain himself, and repeated his entire con- 
versation with Vladimir Sergyeitch, word for 

VeretyefF burst out laughing, then lapsed into 

" But with whom is he going to fight? ''—he 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" That 's what I cannot say,''— returned Ivan 

" At all events, with whom has he been talk- 
ing? " 

" With different people. . . . With Egor 
Kapitonitch. It cannot be that he is going to 
fight with him?" 

Veretyeff went away from Ivan flitch. 

So, then, they made a punch, and began to 
drink. Veretyeff was sitting in the most con- 
spicuous place. Jolly and profligate, he held the 
pre-eminence in gatherings of young men. He 
threw off his waistcoat and neckcloth. He was 
asked to sing; he took a guitar and sang several 
songs. Heads began to wax rather hot; the 
young men began to propose toasts. Suddenly 
Steltchmsky, all red in the face, sprang upon 
the table, and elevating his glass high above his 
head, exclaimed loudly: 

" To the health .... of I know whom," — 
he hastily caught himself up, drank off his liquor, 
and smashed his glass on the floor, adding: — 
" May my foe be shivered into just such pieces 

Veretyeff, who had long had his eye on him, 
swiftly raised his head. . . . 

" Steltchinsky,"— said he,—" in the first place, 
get off the table ; that 's indecorous, and you have 
very bad boots into the bargain ; and, in the second 
place, come hither, I will tell thee something." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


He led him aside. 

" Hearken, brother; I know that thou art go- 
ing to fight to-morrow with that gentleman from 

Steltchinsky started. 

" How .... who told thee? " 

" I tell thee it is so. And I also know on 
whose account thou art going to fight." 

" Who is it? I am curious to know." 

"Akh, get out with thee, thou Talleyrand I 
My sister's, of course. Come, come, don't pre- 
tend to be surprised. It gives you a goose- 
like expression. I can't imagine how this 
has come about, but it is a fact. That will 
do, my good fellow,"— pursued VeretyefF.— 
*' What 's the use of shamming? I know, you 
see, that you have been paying court to her this 
long time." 

" But, nevertheless, that does not prove . . • ." 

" Stop, if you please. But hearken to what 
I am about to say to you. I won't permit that 
duel under any circimastances whatsoever. Dost 
understand? All this folly will descend upon 
my sister. Excuse me: so long as I am alive 

that shall not be. As for thou and I, we 

shall perish— we 're on the road to it; but she 
must live a long time yet, and live happily. Yes, 
I swear,"— he added, with sudden heat,—" that 
I will betray all others, even those who might 
be ready to sacrifice everything for me, but I will 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


not permit any one to touch a single hair of her 

Steltchmsky emitted a forced laugh. 

" Thou art drunk, my dear fellow, and art 
raving .... that 's all." 

" And art not thou, I 'd like to know? But 
whether I am drunk or not, is a matter of not 
the slightest consequence. But I 'm talking 
business. Thou shalt not fight with that gentle- 
man, I guarantee that. And what in the world 
possessed thee to have anything to do with him? 
Hast grown jealous, pray? Well, those speak 
the truth who say that men in love are stupid! 
Why she danced with him simply in order to pre- 
vent his inviting .... Well, but that *s not the 
point. But this duel shall not take place." 

" H'm! I should like to see how thou wilt pre- 
vent me?" 

"Well, then, this way: if thou dost not in- 
stantly give me thy word to renounce this duel, 
I will fight with thee myself." 

" ReaUy? " 

" My dear fellow, entertain no doubt on that 
score. I will insult thee on the spot, my little 
friend, in the presence of every one, in the most 
fantastic manner, and then fight thee across 
a handkerchief, if thou wilt. But I think that 
will be disagreeable to thee, for many reasons, 

Steltchmsky flared up, began to say that this 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


was intimidation/ that he would not permit any 
one to meddle with his affairs, that he would not 
stick at anything . . . • and wound up by sub- 
mitting, and renouncing all attempts on the life 
of Vladimir Sergyeitch. Veretyeff embraced 
him, and half an hour had not elapsed, before the 
two had already drunk Briiderschaft for the 
tenth time, — that is to say, they drank with arms 
interlocked.. . . . The young man who had acted 
as floor-manager of the ball also drank Briider- 
schaft with them, and at first clung close to them, 
but finally fell asleep in the most innocent man- 
ner, and lay for a long time on his back in a con- 
dition of complete insensibility. . . . The ex- 
pression of his tiny, pale face was both amusing 
and pitiful. . . . Good heavens! what would 
those fashionable ladies, his acquaintances, have 
said, if they had beheld him in that condition 1 
But, luckily for him, he was not acquainted with 
a single fashionable lady. 

Ivan llitch also distinguished himself on that 
night. First he amazed the guests by suddenly 
striking up: "In the country a Baron once 

" The hawfinch! The hawfinch has begun to 
sing!"— shouted all. "When has it ever hap- 
pened that a hawfinch has sung by night? " 

" As though I knew only one song," — retorted 

^ He uses an impromptu Russification of a foreign word: 
irUimidcUziya, —Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Ivan Ilitch, who was heated with liquor; — "I 
know some more, too." 

" Come, come, come, show us your art." 
Ivan Ilitch maintained silence for a while, and 
suddenly struck up in a bass voice: " Krambam- 
buli,^ bequest of our fathers 1" but so incoher- 
ently and strangely, that a general outburst of 
laughter immediately drowned his voice, and he 
fell silent. When all had dispersed, Veretyeff 
betook himself to Vladimir Sergyeitch, and the 
brief conversation already reported, ensued be- 
tween them. 

On the following day, Vladimir Sergyeitch 
drove off to his own Sasovo very early. He 
passed the whole morning in a state of excite- 
ment, came near mistaking a passing merchant 
for a second, and breathed freely only when his 
lackey brought him a letter from Steltchinsky. 
Vladimir Sergyeitch perused that letter several 
times,— it was very adroitly worded. . • . Stel- 
tchinsky began with the words: '^ La nuit porte 
conseil. Monsieur^' — made no excuses whatever, 
because, in his opinion, he had not insulted his 
antagonist in any way; but admitted that he 
had been somewhat irritated on the preceding 
evening, and wound up with the statement that 
he held himself entirely at the disposition of Mr. 
Astakhoff {''de M-r Astdkhof) , but no longer 
demanded satisfaction himself. After having 

1 A mixed drink.— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


composed and despatched a reply, which was 
filled, simultaneously with courtesy which bor- 
dered on playfulness, and a sense of dignity, in 
which, however, no trace of braggadocio was per- 
ceptible, Vladimir Sergyeitch sat down to din- 
ner, rubbing his hands, ate with great satisfac- 
tion, and immediately afterward set off, without 
having even sent relays on in advance. The 
road along which he drove passed at a distance 
of four versts from Ipatoff's manor. . . . Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch looked at it. 

"Farewell, region of dead calml"— he said 
with a smile. 

The images of Nadezhda Alexyeevna and Ma- 
rya Pavlovna presented themselves for a moment 
to his imagination; he dismissed them with a wave 
of his hand, and sank into a doze. 


More than three months had passed. Autumn 
had long since set in ; the yellow forests had grown 
bare, the tomtits had arrived, and— unfailing 
sign of the near approach of winter— the wind 
nad begun to howl and wail. But there had been 
no heavy rains, as yet, and mud had not suc- 
ceeded in spreading itself over the roads. Tak- 
ing advantage of this circumstance, Vladimir 
Sergyeitch set out for the government capital, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


for the purpose of winding up several matters of 
business. He spent the morning in driving about, 
and in the evening went to the club. In the vast, 
gloomy hall of the club he encountered several 
acquaintances, and, among others, the old retired 
captain of cavalry Flitch, a busybody, wit, gam- 
bler, and gossip, well known to every one. Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch entered into conversation with 

"Ah, by the wayl"— suddenly exclaimed the 
retired cavalry-captain; "an acquaintance of 
yours passed through here the other day, and left 
her compliments for you." 

"Who was she?" 

" Madame Steltchinsky." 

" I don't know any Madame Steltchinsky." 

" You knew her as a girl. . . . She was bom 
Veretyeff. . . . Nadezhda Alexyeevna. Her 
husband served our Governor. You must have 
seen him also. ... A lively man, with a mous- 
tache. . . . He 's hooked a splendid woman, with , 
money to boot." i 

" You don't say so,"— said Vladimir Sergye- 
itch.—" So she has married him. . . . H'm! 
And where have they gone? " 

"To Petersburg. She also bade me remind i 
you of a certain bonbon motto. . . . What sort i 
of a motto was it, allow me to inquire? " 

And the old gossip thrust forward his sharp 
nose. I 



e'b by Google 


" I don't remember, really; some jest or other," 
— returned Vladimir Sergyeiteh.— " But permit 
me to ask, where is her brother now? " 

" Piotr? Well, he 's in a bad way." 
Mr. Flitch rolled up his small, foxy eyes, and 
heaved a sigh. 

" Why, what 's the matter? "—asked Vladimir 

" He has taken to dissipation! He 's a ruined 

" But where is he now? " 

" It is absolutely unknown where he is. He 
went off somewhere or other after a gipsy girl; 
that 's the most certain thing of all. He 's not in 
this government, I '11 guarantee that." 

" And does old Ipatoff still live there? " 

" Mikhail Nikolaitch? That eccentric old fel- 
low? Yes, he still lives there." 

" And is everything in his household .... as 
it used to be?" 

" Certainly, certainly. Here now, why don't 
you marry his sister-in-law? She 's not a woman, 
you know, she 's simply a moniunent, really. 
Ha, ha! People have already been talking 
among us .... * why,' say they . . . ." 

"You don't say so, sir,"— articulated Vladi- 
mir Sergyeiteh, narrowing his eyes. 

At that moment. Flitch was invited to a card- 
game, and the conversation terminated. 

Vladimir Sergj'^eitch had intended to return 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


home promptly; but suddenly he received by 
special messenger a report from the overseer, that 
six of the peasants' homesteads had burned down 
in Sasovo, and he decided to go thither himself. 
The distance from the government capital to Sa- 
sovo was reckoned at sixty versts. Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch arrived toward evening at the wing with 
which the reader is already acquainted, inmiedi- 
ately gave orders that the overseer and clerk 
should be summoned, scolded them both in proper 
fashion, inspected the scene of the conflagration 
next morning, took the necessary measures, and 
after dinner, after some wavering, set ofi^ to 
visit Ipatoff. Vladimir Sergyeitch would have 
remained at home, had he not heard from Flitch 
of Nadezhda Alexyeevna's departure; he did not 
wish to meet her; but he was not averse to taking 
another look at Marya Pavlovna. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch, as on the occasion of his 
first visit, found Ipatofi^ busy at draughts with 
The Folding Soul. The old man was delighted 
to see him; yet it seemed to Vladimir Sergyeitch 
as though his face were troubled, and his speech 
did not flow freely and readily as of old. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch exchanged a silent glance 
with Ivan tlitch. Both winced a little; but they 
speedily recovered their serenity. 

" Are all yom* family well? "—inquired Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch. 

" Yes, thank God, I thank you sincerely,"— 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


replied Ipatoff.— " Only Marya Pavlovna is n't 
quite . . . you know, she stays in her room most 
of the time." 

" Has she caught cold? " 

" No • . . she just likes to. She will make her 
appearance at tea." 

" And Egor Kapitonitch? What is he doing? " 

" Akhl Egor Kapitonitch is a dead man. His 
wife has died." 

"It cannot be!" 

" She died in twenty-four hours, of cholera. 
You would n't know him now, he has become 
simply unrecognisable. ' Without Matryona 
Markovna,' he says, ' life is a burden to me. I 
shall die,' he says, ' and God be thanked,' he says; 
* I don't wish to live,' says he. Yes, he 's done 
for, poor feUow." 

" Akhl good heavens, how unpleasant that isl " 
—exclaimed Vladimir Sergyeitch.— "Poor Egor 
Kapitonitch I" 

All were silent for a time. 

" I hear that your pretty neighbour has mar- 
ried,"— remarked Vladimir Sergyeitch, flushing 

" Nadezhda Alexyeevna? Yes, she has." 

Ipatoff darted a sidelong glance at Vladimir 

" Certainly .... certainly, she has married 
and gone away." 

"To Petersburg?" 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" To St. Petersburg." 

" Mdrya Pavlovna must miss her, I think. I 
believe they were great friends." 

" Of course she misses her. That cannot be 
avoided. But as for friendship, I '11 just tell 
you, that the friendship of girls is even worse 
than the friendship of men. So long as they are 
face to face, it 's all right; but, otherwise, it van- 

"Do you think so?" 

"Yes, by Heaven, 't is so! Take Nadezhda 
Alexyeevna, for example. She has n't written 
to us since she went away; but how she promised, 
even vowed that she would! In truth, she 's in 
no mood for that now." 

" And has she been gone long? " 

" Yes; it must be fully six weeks. She hur- 
ried off on the very day after the wedding, for- 
eign fashion." 

" I hear that her brother is no longer here, 
either? "—said Vladimir Sergyeitch, after a brief 

" No; he is not. They are city folk, you see; 
as though they would live long in the country! " 

" And does no one know where he has gone? " 

" No." 

" He just went into a rage, and— slap-bang j 
on the ear," remarked Ivan tlitch. 

" He just went into a rage, and— slap-bang on 
the ear," repeated Ipatoff . " Well, and how about 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



yourself, Vladimir Sergyeitch,— what nice things 
have you been doing?"— he added, wheeling 
round on his chair. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch began to tell about him- 
self; Ipatoff listened and listened to him, and at 
last exclaimed: 

" But why does n't Marya Pdvlovna come? 
Thou hadst better go for her, Ivan tlitch/' 

Ivan llitch left the room, and returning, re- 
ported that Marya Pavlovna would be there di- 

" What 's the matter? Has she got a head- 
ache? "—inquired Ipatoff, in an undertone. 

" Yes," replied Ivan tlitch. 

The door opened, and Marya Pavlovna en- 
tered. Vladimir Sergyeitch rose, bowed, and 
could not utter a word, so great was his amaze- 
ment: so changed was Marya Pavlovna since 
he had seen her the last time! The rosy 
bloom had vanished from her emaciated 
cheeks; a broad black ring encircled her eyes; 
her lips were bitterly compressed; her whole 
face, impassive and dark, seemed to have become 

She raised her eyes, and there was no spark 
in them. 

" How do you feel now? " Ipatoff asked her. 

" I am well,"— she replied; .and sat down at the 
table, on which the samovdr was already bub- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Vladimir Sergyeitch was pretty thoroughly 
bored that evening. But no one was in good 
spirits. The conversation persisted in taking a 
cheerless turn. 

"Just listen/'— said Ipatoff, among other 
things, as he lent an ear to the howling of the 
wind;— "what notes it emits! The summer is 
long since past; and here is autumn passing, too, 
and winter is at the door. Again we shall be 
buried in snow-drifts. I hope the snow will fall 
very soon. Otherwise, when you go out into the 
garden, melancholy descends upon you. . • • Just 
as though there were some sort of a ruin there. 
The branches of the trees clash together. • • . 
Yes, the fine days are overl " 

" They are over,"— repeated Ivan flitch. 

Marya Pavlovna stared silently out of the win- 

" God willing, they will return," — remarked 

No one answered him. 

" Do you remember how finely they sang songs 
here that time? "—said Vladimir Sergyeitch. 

" I should think they did,"— replied the old 
man, with a sigh. 

" But you might sing to us,"— went on Vla- 
dimir Sergyeitch, turning to Marya Pavlovna; 
— " you have such a fine voice." 

She did not answer him. 

" And how is your mother? "—Vladimir Ser- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


gyeitch inquired of Ipatoff, not knowing what 
to talk about. 

" Thank God! she gets on nicely, considering 
her ailments. She came over in her little car- 
riage to-day. She 's a broken tree, I must tell 
you— creak, creak, and the first you know, some 
young, strong sapling falls over; but she goes 
on standing and standing. Ekh, ha, ha I " 

Marya Pavlovna dropped her hands in her lap, 
and bowed her head. 

" And, nevertheless, her existence is hard," — 
began Ipatoff again;— " rightly is it said: * old 
age is no joy.' " 

" And there 's no joy in being young,"— said 
Marya Pavlovna, as though to herself. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch would have liked to re- 
turn home that night, but it was so dark out of 
doors that he could not make up his mind to 
set out. He was assigned to the same chamber, 
up-stairs, in which, three months previously, he 
had passed a troubled night, thanks to Egor 
Kapitonitch. . . . 

" Does he snore now? "—thought Vladimir 
Sergyeitch, as he recalled his drilling of his ser- 
vant, and the sudden appearance of Mdrya Pav- 
lovna in the garden. . . . 

Vladimir Sergyeitch walked to the window, 
and laid his brow against the cold glass. His 
own face gazed dimly at him from out of doors, 
as though his eyes were riveted upon a black cur- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tain, and it was only after a considerable time 
that he wais able to make out against the star- 
less sky the branches of the trees, writhing wildly 
in the gloom. They were harassed by a tur- 
bulent wind. 

Suddenly it seemed to Vladimir Sergyeitch 
as though something white had flashed along the 
ground. . . . He gazed more intently, laughed, 
shrugged his shoulders, and exclaiming in an un- 
dertone: "That 's what imagination will do!" 
got into bed. 

He fell asleep very soon ; but he was not fated 
to pass a quiet night on this occasion either. He 
was awakened by a running to and fro, which 
arose in the house. . . . He raised his head from 
the pillow. . . . Agitated voices, exclamations, 
hurried footsteps were audible, doors were bang- 
ing; now the sound of women weeping rang out, 
shouts were set up in the garden, other cries f ar- 
ther off^ responded. . . . The uproar in the house 
increased, and became more noisy with every mo- 
ment. . . . "Fire!" flashed through Vladimir 
Sergyeitch's mind. In alarm he sprang from 
his bed, and rushed to the window; but there 
was no redness in the sky; only, in the garden, 
points of flame were moving briskly along the 
paths,— caused by people running about with 
lanterns. Vladimir Sergyeitch went quickly to 
the door, opened it, and ran directly into Ivan 
Ilitch. Pale, dishevelled, half -clothed, the lat- 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ter was dashing onward, without himself knowing 

"What is it? What has happened? "—in- 
quired Vladimir Sergyeitch, excitedly, seizing 
him by the arm. 

" She has disappeared; she has thrown herself 
into the water,"— replied Ivan llitch, in a chok- 
ing voice. 

" Who has thrown herself into the water? Who 
has disappeared?" 

" Marya Pavlovna! Who else could it be but 
Marya Pavlovna? She has perished, the darling! 
Help! Good heavens, let us run as fast as we 
can ! Be quick, my dear people I " 

And Ivan llitch rushed down the stairs. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch put on his shoes somehow, 
threw his cloak over his shoulders, and ran after 

In the house he no longer encountered any one, 
all had hastened out into the garden; only the 
little girls, Ipatoff's daughters, met him in the 
corridor, near the anteroom; deadly pale with 
terror, they stood there in their little white petti- 
coats, with clasped hands and bare feet, beside 
a night-lamp set on the floor. Through the draw- 
ing-room, past an overturned table, flew Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch to the terrace. Through the 
grove, in the direction of the dam, light and 
shadows were flashing. . . . 

" Go for boat-hooks I Go for boat-hooks as 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


quickly as possible! ''—Ipatoff's voice could be 
heard shouting. 

" A net, a net, a boat! "—shouted other voices. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch ran in the direction of the 
shouts. He found Ipatoff on the shore of the 
pond; a lantern hung on a bough brilliantly illu- 
minated the old man's grey head. He was wring- 
ing his hands, and reeling like a drunken man; 
by his side, a woman lay writhing and sobbing 
on the grass; round about men were bustling. 
Ivan flitch had already advanced into the water 
up to his knees, and was feeling the bottom with 
a pole; a coachman was undressing, trembling 
all over as he did so; two men were dragging a 
boat along the shore; a sharp trampling of hoofs 
was audible along the village street. . . . The wind 
swept past with a shriek, as though endeavouring 
to quench the lantern, while the pond plashed 
noisily, darkling in a menacing way. . . . 

"What do I hear? " — exclaimed Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch, rushing up to Ipatoff.—" Is it possible? " 

"The boat-hooks— fetch the boat-hooks!"— 
moaned the old man by way of reply to him. . . . 

" But good gracious, perhaps you are mistaken, 
Mikhail Nikolaitch. . . ." 

" No, mistaken indeed ! " — said the woman 
who was lying on the grass, Marya Pavlovna's 
maid, in a tearful voice. " Unlucky creature that 
I am, I heard her myself, the darling, throw her- 
self into the water, and struggling in the water, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


and screaming: * Save me!' and then, once more: 
* Save me!'" 

" Why did n't you prevent her, pray? " 
"But how was I to prevent her, dear little 
father, my lord? Why, when I discovered it, she 
was no longer in her room, but my heart had a 
foreboding, you know; these last days she has 
been so sad all the time, and has said nothing; so 
I knew how it was, and rushed straight into the 
garden, just as though some one had made me 
do it; and suddenly I heard something go splash! 
into the water : * Save me ! ' I heard the cry : ' Save 
me!' .... Okh, my darling, light of my eyes!" 
" But perhaps it only seemed so to thee! " 
" Seemed so, forsooth! But where is she? what 
has become of her? " 

" So that is what looked white to me in the 
gloom," thought Vladimir Sergyeitch. . . . 

In the meanwhile, men had run up with boat- 
hooks, dragged thither a net, and begun to spread 
it out on the grass, a great throng of people had 
assembled, a conmaotion had arisen, and a jost- 
ling .... the coachman seized one boat-hook, 
the village lelder seized another, both sprang into 
the boat, put off, and set to searching the water 
with the hooks; the people on the shore lighted 
them. Strange and dreadful did their move- 
ments seem, and their shadows in the gloom, 
above the agitated pond, in the dim and uncertain 
light of the lanterns. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" He . . . here, the hook has caught!"— sud- 
denly cried the coachman. 

All stood stock-still where they were. 

The coachman pulled the hook toward him, and 
bent over. . . . Something horned and black 
slowly came to the surface. . . . 

" A tree-stiunp,"— said the coachman, pulling 
away the hook. 

" But come back, come back! "—they shouted 
to him from the shore.—" Thou wilt accomplish 
nothing with the hooks; thou must use the 

" Yes, yes, the net! "—chimed in others. 

" Stop,"— said the elder;—" I Ve got hold of 
something also .... something soft, appar- 
ently,"— he added, after a brief pause. 

A white spot made its appearance alongside 
the boat. • • • 

"The young lady!"— suddenly shouted the 
elder.-" 'T is she!" 

He was not mistaken. . . . The hook had 
caught Marya Pavlovna by the sleeve of her 
gown. The coachman inmiediately seized her, 
dragged her out of the water . • • • in a couple 
of powerful strokes the boat was at the shore. 
.... Ipdtoff, Ivdn Ilitch, Vladimir Sergyeitdi, 
all rushed to Mdrya Pdvlovna, raised her up, 
bore her home in their arms, immediately im- 
dressed her, and began to roll her, and warm her. 
.... But all their efforts, their exertions, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


proved vain. . . . Marya Pavlovna did not come 
to herself. . . . Life had already left her. 

Early on the following morning, Vladimir 
Sergyeiteh left Ipatovka; before his departure, 
he went to bid farewell to the dead woman. 
She was lying on the table in the drawing-room 
in a white gown. . . . Her thick hair was not yet 
entirely dry, a sort of mournful surprise was ex- 
pressed on her pale face, which had not had time 
to grow distorted; her parted lips seemed to be 
trying to speak, and ask something; . . . her 
hands, convulsively clasped, as though with grief, 
were pressed tight to her breast. . . . But with what- 
ever sorrowful thought the poor drowned girl had 
perished, death had laid upon her the seal of its 
eternal silence and peace .... and who under- 
stands what a dead face expresses during those 
few moments when, for the last time, it meets the 
glance of the living before it vanishes forever 
and is destroyed in the grave? 

Vladimir Sergyeiteh stood for a while in deco- 
rous meditation before the body of Marya Pa- 
vlovna, crossed himself thrice, and left the room, 
without having noticed Ivdn flitch who was 
weeping softly in one comer. . . . And he 
was not the only one who wept that day: 
all the servants in the house wept bitterly: 
Mdrya Pavlovna had left a good memory be- 
hind her. 

The following is what old Ipatoff wrote, a 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


week later, in reply to a letter which had come, 
at last, from Nadezhda Alexyeevna: 

** One week ago, dear Madam, Nadezhda Alexyeevna, 
my unhappy sister-in-law, your acquaintance, Mdrya 
Pdvlovna, wilfully ended her own life, by throwing herself 
by night into the pond, and we have already committed 
her body to the earth. She decided upon this sad and ter- 
rible deed, without having bidden me farewell, without 
leaving even a letter or so much as a note, to declare her 
last will. • . . But you know better than any one else, 
Nadezhda Alexyeevna, on whose soul this great and 
deadly sin must fall! May the Lord Gkxi judge your 
brother, for my sister-in-law could not cease to love him, 
nor survive the separation. . . /' 

Nadezhda Alexyeevna received this letter in 
Italy, whither she had gone with her husband. 
Count de Steltchinsky, as he was called in all the 
hotels. He did not visit hotels alone, however; 
he was frequently seen in gambling-houses, in 
the Kur-Saal at the baths. ... At first he lost 
a great deal of money, then he ceased to lose, and 
his face assumed a peculiar expression, not pre- 
cisely suspicious, nor yet precisely insolent, Uke 
that which a man has who imexpectedly gets in- 
volved in scandals. . . . He saw his wife rarely. 
But Nadezhda Alexyeevna did not languish in 
his absence. She developed a passion for paint- 
ing and the fine arts. She associated chiefly with 
artists, and was fond of discussing the beautiful 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


with young men. Ipatoff's letter grieved her 
greatly, but did not prevent her going that same 
day to " the Dogs' Cave," to see how the poor 
animals suffocated when immersed in sulphur 

She did not go alone. She was escorted by 
divers cavaliers. Among their number, a certain 
Mr. Popelin, an artist— a Frenchman, who had 
not finished his course— with a small beard, and 
dressed in a checked sack-coat, was the most 
agreeable. He sang the newest romances in a 
thin tenor voice, made very free-and-easy jokes, 
and although he was gaunt of form, yet he ate 
a very great deal. 


It was a sunny, cold January day; a multitude 
of people were strolling on the Nevsky Pros- 
pekt. The clock on the tower of the city hall 
marked three o'clock. Along the broad stone 
slabs, strewn with yellow sand, was walking, 
among others, our acquaintance Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch Astdkhoff. He has grown very virile 
since we parted from him; his face is framed in 
whiskers, and he has grown plump all over, but 
he has not aged. He was moving after the 
crowd at a leisurely pace, and now and then 
casting a glance about him; he was expecting his 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


wife; she had preferred to drive up in the car- 
riage with her mother. Vladimir Sergy^itch mar- 
ried five years ago, precisely in the manner which 
he had always desired: his wife was wealthy, and 
with the best of connections. Courteously lifting 
his splendidly brushed hat when he met his nu- 
merous acquaintances, Vladimir Sergyeitch was 
still stepping out with the free stride of a man 
who is satisfied with his lot, when suddenly, just 
at the Passage,* he came near colliding with a 
gentleman in a Spanish cloak and f oraging-cap, 
with a decidedly worn face, a dyed moustache, 
and large, swollen eyes. Vladimir Sergyeitch 
drew aside with dignity, but the gentleman in the 
foraging-cap glanced at him, and suddenly ex- 

" Ah! Mr. Astakhoff, how do you do? " 

Vladimir Sergyeitch made no reply, and 
stopped short in surprise. He could not com- 
prehend how a gentleman who could bring him- 
self to walk on the Nevsky in a foraging-cap 
could be acquainted with his name. 

"You do not recognise me,"— pursued the gen- 
tleman in the cap:—" I saw you eight years ago, 
in the country, in the T*** Government, at the 
Ipatoffs'. My name is Veretyeff." 

"Akhl Good heavens! excuse m6l"— ex- 

^A large collection of shops, under one roof, extending from the 
N^vsky Prosp^t to the Bolshiiya Italy&nskaya (''Great Italian 
Street"), in St. Petersburg.— Tbanslatob. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


claimed Vladimir Sergyeitch.— " But how you 
have changed since then! . . ." 

" Yes, I have grown old,"— returned Piotr 
Alexyeitch, passing his hand, which was devoid 
of a glove, over his face.—" But you have not 

Veretyeff had not so much aged as fallen 
away and sunk down. Small, delicate wrinkles 
covered his face; and when he spoke, his lips and 
cheeks twitched slightly. From all this it was 
perceptible that the man had been living hard. 

" Where have you disappeared to all this time, 
that you have not been visible? "—Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch asked him. 

" I have been wandering about here and there. 
And you have been in Petersburg all the while? " 

" Yes, most of the time." 

" Are you married? " 

" Yes." 

And Vladimir Sergyeitch assimied a rather 
severe mien, as though with the object of saying 
to Veretyeff: " My good fellow, don't take it into 
thy head to ask me to present thee to my wife." 

Veretyeff understood him, apparently. An 
indifferent sneer barely flitted across his lips. 

" And how is your sister? "—inquired Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch.—" Where is she? " 

" I cannot tell you for certain. She must be in 
Moscow. I have not received any letters from 
her this long time!" 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Is her husband alive? " 

" Yes." 

" And Mr. Ipatoff ? " 

" I don't know; probably he is alive also; but 
he may be dead." 

"And that gentleman— what the deuce was 
his name?— Bodryakoff,— what of him? " 

" The one you invited to be your second — you 
remember, when you were so scared? Why, the 
devil knows!" 

Vladimir Sergyeitch maintained silence for a 
while, with dignity written on his face. 

" I always recall with pleasure those even- 
ings,"— he went on,—" when I had the opportu- 
nity " (he had nearly said, " the honour ") " of 
making the acquaintance of your sister and your- 
self. She was a very amiable person. And do 
you sing as agreeably as ever? " 

" No; I have lost my voice. . . . But that was 
a good time!" 

" I visited Ipatovka once afterward,"— added 
Vladimir Sergyeitch, elevating his eyebrows 
mournfully. " I think that was the name of that 
village— on the very day of a terrible event. . . ." 

" Yes, yes, that was frightful, frightf ul,"- 
Veretyeff hastily interrupted him.—" Yes, yes. 
And do you remember how you came near fight- | 
ing with my present brother-in-law? " 

" H'm! I remember 1 "—replied Vladimir Ser- 
gyeitch, slowly.—" However, I must confess to 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


you that so much time has elapsed since then, that 
all that sometimes seems to me like a dream. . . ." 

" Like a dream,"— repeated Veretyeff, and his 
pale cheeks flushed;— " like a dream .... no, 
it was not a dream, for me at all events. It was 
the time of youth, of mirth and happiness, the 
time of unlimited hopes, and invincible powers; 
and if it was a dream, then it was a very beau- 
tiful dream. And now, you and I have grown 
old and stupid, we dye our moustaches, and 
saunter on the Nevsky, and have become good 
for nothing; like broken-winded nags, we have 
become utterly vapid and worn out; it cannot 
be said that we are pompous and put on airs, nor 
that we spend our time in idleness; but I fear 
we drown our grief in drink,— that is more like 
a dream, and a hideous dream. Life has been 
lived, and lived in vain, clumsily, vulgarly —that 's 
what is bitter! That 's what one would like to 
shake off like a dream, that 's what one would 
like to recover one's self from! .... And then 
.... everywhere, there is one frightful memory, 
one ghost. . . . But farewell 1 " 

VeretyeflT walked hastily away; but on coming 
opposite the door of one of the principal con- 
fectioners on the Nevsky, he halted, entered, and 
after drinking a glass of orange vodka at the 
buffet, he wended his way through the biUiard- 
room, all dark and dim with tobacco-smoke, to 
the rear room. There he found several acquaint- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ances, his former comrades— Petya Lazurin, K6- 
stya Kovrovsky, and Prince Serdiukoff, and two 
other gentlemen who were called simply Vasiuk, 
and Fildt. All of them were men no longer 
young, though unmarried; some of them had lost 
their hair, others were growing grey; their faces 
were covered with wrinkles, their chins had grown 
double; in a word, these gentlemen had all long 
since passed their prime, as the saying is. Yet 
all of them continued to regard VeretyefF as a 
remarkable man, destined to astonish the uni- 
verse; and he was wiser than they only because 
he was very well aware of his utter and radical 
uselessness. And even outside of his circle, there 
were people who thought concerning him, that 
if he had not ruined himself, the deuce only 
knows what he would have made of himself. . . . 
These people were mistaken. Nothing ever 
comes of Veretyeffs. 

Piotr Alexyeitch's friends welcomed him with 
the customary greetings. At first he dumb- 
founded them with his gloomy aspect and his 
splenetic speeches; but he speedily calmed down, 
cheered up, and affairs went on in their wonted 

But Vladimir Sergyeitch, as soon as Veretyeff 
left him, contracted his brows in a frown and 
straightened himself up. Piotr Alexyeitch's un- 
expected sally had astounded, even offended 
him extremely. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" ' We have grown stupid, we drink liquor, we 
dye our moustaches ' . . • . parlez pour vous, 
mon cher/'—he said at last, almost aloud, and 
emitting a couple of snorts caused by an access 
of involuntary indignation, he was preparing to 
continue his stroll. 

" Who was that talking with you? "—rang out 
a loud and self-confident voice behind him. 

Vladimir Sergyeitch turned round and beheld 
one of his best friends, a certain Mr. Pomponsky. 
This Mr. Pomponsky, a man of lofty stature, 
and stout, occupied a decidedly important post, 
and never once, from his very earUest youth, had 
he doubted himself. 

"Why, a sort of eccentric,"— said Vladimir 
Sergyeitch, linking his arm in Mr. Pomponsky's. 

" Grood gracious, Vladimir Sergyeitch, is it 
permissible for a respectable man to chat on the 
street with an individual who wears a f oraging- 
cap on his head? 'T is indecent! I 'm amazed! 
Where could you have made acquaintance with 
such a person? " 

" In the country." 

" In the country. . . . One does not bow to 
one's country neighbours in town . . . . ce n'est 
pas comme il faut A gentleman should always 
bear himself like a gentleman if he wishes 
that • • • •" 

"Here is my wife,"— Vladimir Sergyeitch 
hastily interrupted him.—" Let us go to her." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


And the two gentlemen directed their steps 
to a low-hung, elegant carriage, from whose win- 
dow there peered forth the pale, weary, and irri- 
tatingly-arrogant little face of a woman who was 
still yomig, but already faded. 

Behind her another lady, also apparently in a 
bad himiour,— her mother, — was visible. Vladi- 
mir Sergyeitch opened the door of the carriage, 
and offered his arm to his wife. Pomponsky 
gave his to the mother-in-law, and the two 
couples made their way along the Nevsky Pros- 
pekt, accompanied by a short, black-haired foot- 
man in yellowish-grey gaiters, and with a big 
cockade on his hat. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 





* ¥T is enough," I said to myself, while my feet, 
JL treading unwillingly the steep slope of the 
mountain, bore me downward toward the quiet 
river; " it is enough," I repeated, as I inhaled the 
resinous scent of the pine grove, to which the chill 
of approaching evening had imparted a peculiar 
potency and pungency; "it is enough," I said 
once more, as I seated myself on a mossy hillock 
directly on the brink of the river and gazed at its 
dark, unhurried waves, above which a thick 
growth of reeds hf ted their pale-green stalks. . . . 
" It is enough!— Have done with dreaming, with 
striving: *t is high time to pull thyself together; 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


't is high time to clutch thy head with both hands 
and bid thy heart be still. Give over pampering 
thyself with the sweet indulgence of indefinite but 
captivating sensations; give over ruining after 
every new form of beauty ; give over seizing every 
tremor of its delicate and powerful pinions. — 
Everything is known, everything has been felt 
over and over again many times already. ... I 
am weary.— What care I that at this very mo- 
ment the dawn is suffusing the sky ever more and 
more broadly, like some inflamed, all-conquering 
passion I What care I that two paces from me, 
amid the tranquillity and the tenderness and the 
gleam of evening, in the dewy depths of a mo- 
tionless bush, a nightingale has suddenly burst 
forth in such magical notes as though there had 
never been any nightingales in the world before 
it, and as though it were the first to chant the first 
song of the first love! All that has been, has 
been, I repeat; it has been recapitulated a thou- 
sand times— and when one remembers that all 
this will so continue for a whole eternity— as 
though to order, by law— one even grows vexed! 
Yes .... vexed!'* 


Eh, how I have suffered! Formerly such 
thoughts never entered my head— formerly, in 
those happj'^ days when I myself was wont to 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


flame like the glow of dawn, and to sing like the 
nightingale.— I must confess that everything has 
grown ohscure romid about me, all life has with- 
ered. The light which gives to its colours both 
significance and power— that light which ema- 
nates from the heart of man— has become extinct 
within me. . . . No, it has not yet become extinct— 
but it is barely smouldering, without radiance 
and without warmth. I remember how one day, 
late at night, in Moscow, I stepped up to the 
grated window of an ancient church and leaned 
against the uneven glass. It was dark under the 
low arches; a forgotten shrine-lamp flickered 
with a red flame in front of an ancient holy 
picture, and only the lips of the holy face were 
visible, stem and suff^ering: mournful gloom 
closed in around and seemed to be preparing to 
crush with its dull weight the faint ray of un- 
necessary light. . . . And in my heart reign now 
the same sort of light and the same sort of gloom. 

And this I write to thee— to thee, my only and 
unforgettable friend; to thee, my dear compan- 
ion,* whom I have left forever, but whom I shall 
never cease to love until my life ends. . . . Alas! 
thou knowest what it was that separated us. But 
I will not refer to that now. I have left thee . . . 

^ The Russian shows that a woman is addressed. —Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


but even here, in this remote nook, at this dis- 
tance, in this exile, I am all permeated with thee, 
I am in thy power as of yore, as of yore I feel 
the sweet pressure of thy hands upon my bowed 
head!— Rising up for the last time, from the mute 
grave in which I now am lying, I run a mild, 
much-moved glance over all my past, over all 
our past. . • • There is no hope and no return, 
but neither is there any bitterness in me, or re- 
gret; and clearer than the heavenly azure, purer 
than the first snows on the mountain heights, are 
my beautiful memories. . . . They do not press 
upon me in throngs : they pass by in procession, 
like those mufiled figures of the Athenian god- 
born ones, which— dost thou remember?— we ad- 
mired so greatly on the ancient bas-reliefs of the 
Vatican. . . . 


I HAVE just alluded to the light which ema- 
nates from the human heart and illumines every- 
thing which surrounds it. ... I want to talk with 
thee about that time when that gracious light 
burned in my heart.— Listen .... but I imagine 
that thou art sitting in front of me, and gazing at 
me with thine affectionate but almost severely- 
attentive eyes. O eyes never to be forgotten! 
On whom, on what are they now fixed? Who is 
receiving into his soul thy glance— that glance 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


M^hich seems to flow from mif athomable depths, 
like those mysterious springs— like you both 
bright and dark— which well up at the very bot-. 
torn of narrow valleys, beneath overhanging 
cliffs? • • • . Listen. 


It was at the end of March, just before the Feast 
of the Annunciation, shortly after I saw thee 
for the first time— and before I as yet suspected 
what thou wert destined to become to me, al- 
though I already bore thee, silently and secretly 
in my heart.— I was obliged to cross one of the 
largest rivers in Russia. The ice had not yet be- 
gun to move in it, but it seemed to have swollen 
up and turned dark; three days previously a thaw 
had set in. The snow was melting round about 
diligently but quietly; everywhere water was ooz- 
ing out ; in the light air a soundless breeze was rov- 
ing. The same even, milky hue enveloped earth 
and sky : it was not a mist, but it was not light ; not 
a single object stood out from the general opac- 
ity; everything seemed both near and indistinct. 
Leaving my kibitka far behind, I walked briskly 
over the river-ice, and with the exception of the 
beat of my own footsteps, I could hear nothing. 
I walked on, enveloped on all sides by the first 
stupor and breath of early spring .... and little 
by little augmenting with every step, with every 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


movement in advance, there gradually rose up and 
grew within me a certain joyous incomprehensi- 
ble agitation. • . • It drew me on, it hastened my 
pace— and so powerful were its transports, that 
I came to a standstill at last and looked about me 
in surprise and questioningly, as though desirous 
of detecting the outward cause of my ecstatic con- 
dition. . . . All was still, white, sunny; but I raised 
my eyes: high above flocks of migratory birds 
were flying past. ..." Spring! Hail, Spring! " — 
I shouted in a loud voice. " Hail, life and love 
and happiness! "—And at that same instant, with 
sweetly-shattering force, similar to the flower of 
a cactus, there suddenly flared up within me thy 
image— flared up and stood there, enchantingly 
clear and beautiful — and I understood that I 
loved thee, thee alone, that I was all filled witb 
thee. • • • 


I THINK of thee . . . and many other memories, 
other pictures rise up before me,— and thou art 
everywhere, on all the paths of my life I en- 
counter thee.— Now there presents itself to me 
an old Russian garden on the slope of a hill, il- 
luminated by the last rays of the smmner sun. 
From behind silvery poplars peeps forth the 
wooden roof of the manor-house, with a slender 
wreath of crimson smoke hanging above the white 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


jraiey, and in the fence a wicket-gate stands 
en a crack, as though some one had pulled it 
Tvith undecided hand. And I stand and wait, 
d gaze at that gate and at the sand on the gar- 
n paths; I wonder and I am moved: everything 
see seems to me remarkable and new, every- 
ing is enveloped with an atmosphere of a sort 
' bright, caressing mystery, and already I think 
hear the swift rustle of footsteps; and I stand, 
1 alert and light, like a bird which has just 
)lded its wings and is poised ready to soar aloft 
^ain— and my heart flames and quivers in joy- 
as dread before the imminent happiness which 
I flitting on in front. . . • 


Then I behold an ancient cathedral in a distant, 
beautiful land. The kneeling people are crowded 
lose in rows; a prayerful chill, something sol- 
ium and sad breathes forth from the lofty, bare 
rault, from the huge pillars which branch up- 
vard.— Thou art standing by my side, speechless 
md unsympathetic, exactly as though thou wert 
SI stranger to me; every fold of thy dark gown 
hiangs motionless, as though sculptured; motion- 
less lie the mottled reflections of the coloured 
windows at thy feet on the well-worn flagstones. 
—And now, vigorously agitating the air dim 
with incense, inwardly agitating us, in a heavy 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


surge the tones of the organ roll out ; and 
hast turned pale and drawn thyself up ; thy 
has touched me, has slipped on higher and 
raised heavenward;— but it seems to me that oiil 
a deathless soul can look like that and ^th m 
eyes. . • . 


Now another picture presents itself to me. — 'Ti 
not an ancient temple which crushes us with it 
stem magnificence: the low walls of a cosey litti 
room separate us from the whole world. — Wha 
am I saying? We are alone— aJone in all tJ) 
world; except us two there is no living thing 
beyond those friendly walls lie darkness azw 
death and emptiness. That is not the wind howl 
ing, that is not the rain streaming in floods; i 
is Chaos wailing and groaning; it is its blind eyes, 
weeping. But with us all is quiet and bright, and 
warm and gracious; something diverting, some- 
thing childishly innocent is fluttering about likel 
a butterfly, is it not? We nestle up to each other, 
we lean our heads together and both read a good 
book; I feel the slender vein in thy delicate tem- 
ple beating; I hear how thou art living, thou 
hearest how I am Hving, thy smfle is bom upon 
my face before it comes on thine; thou silently 
repliest to my silent question; thy thoughts, my 
thoughts, are like the two wings of one and the 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


same bird drowned in the azure. • . The last par- 
titions have fallen— and our love has become so 
calm, so profound, every breach has vanished so 
completely, leaving no trace behind it, that we do 
not even wish to exchange a word, a glance. . . . 
We only wish to breathe, to breathe together, to 
live together, to be together, . . . and not even 
to be conscious of the fact that we are to- 
gether. . . . 


Ok, in conclusion, there presents itself to me a 
clear September morning when thou and I were 
walking together through the deserted garden, as 
yet not wholly out of bloom, of an abandoned 
palace, on the bank of a great non-Russian river, 
beneath the soft radiance of a cloudless sky. Oh, 
how shall I describe those sensations?— that end- 
lessly-flowing river, that absence of people, and 
tranquillity, and joy, and a certain intoxicating 
sadness, and the vibration of happiness, the un- 
familiar, monotonous town, the autmnnal croak- 
ing of the daws in the tall, bright trees— and 
those affectionate speeches and smiles and 
glances long and soft, which pierce to the very 
bottom, and beauty,— the beauty in ourselves, 
round about, everjrwhere; — it is beyond words. 
Oh, bench on which we sat in silence, with heads 
drooping low with happiness— I shall never for- 

811 ^ , 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


get thee to my dying hour!— How charming 
were those rare passers-by with their gentle 
greeting and kind faces, and the large, quiet 
boats which floated past (on one of them— 
dost thou remember?— stood a horse gazing pen- 
sively at the water gliding by under its feet) , the 
childish babble of the little waves inshore and the 
very barking of distant dogs over the expanse of 
the river, the very shouts of the corpulent under- 
officer at the red-cheeked recruits drilling there 
on one side, with their projecting elbows and their 
legs thrust forward like the legs of cranes! . • • 
We both felt that there never had been and never 
would be anything better in the world for us than 
those moments— than all the rest. . . . But what 
comparisons are these! Enough .... enough. . . ^ 
Alas! yes: it is enough. 


Foe the last time I have surrendered myself to 
these memories, and I am parting from them irre- 
vocably—as a miser, after gloating for the last 
time upon his hoard, his gold, his bright trea- 
sure, buries it in the damp earth; as the wick of 
an exhausted lamp, after flashing up in one last 
brilliant flame, becomes covered with grey ashes. 
The little wild animal has peered forth for the 
last time from his lair at the velvety grass, at the 
fair little sun, at the blue, gracious waters, — and 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


has retreated to the deepest level, and curled him- 
self up in a ball, and fallen asleep. Will he have 
visions, if only in his sleep, of the fair little sun, 
and the grass, and the blue, gracious waters? 


Sternly and ruthlessly does Fate lead each one 
of us — and only in the early days do we, occu- 
pied with all sorts of accidents, nonsense, our- 
selves, fail to feel her harsh hand.— So long as 
we are able to deceive ourselves and are not 
ashamed to lie, it is possible to live and to hope 
without shame. The truth— not the full truth 
(there can be no question of that), but even that 
tiny fraction which is accessible to us — immedi- 
ately closes our mouths, binds our hands, and re- 
duces "to negation."— The only thing that is 
then left for a man, in order to keep erect on his 
feet and not crumble to dust, not to become be- 
mired in the ooze of self -f orgetf ulness, ... is self - 
scorn ; is to turn cahnly away from everything and 
say: "It is enoughl"— and folding his useless 
arms on his empty breast to preserve the last, the 
sole merit which is accessible to him, the merit of 
recognising his own insignificance; the merit to 
which Pascal alludes, when, calling man a think- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


ing reed, he says that if the entire universe were| 
to crush him, he, that reed, would still be higher 
than the universe because he would know that it 
is crushing him— while it would not know that. 
A feeble merit 1 Sad consolation 1 Try as thou 
mayest to permeate thyself with it, to believe? 
in it,— oh, thou my poor brother, whosoever thovj 
mayest be 1— thou canst not refute those ominou.'^ 
words of the poet : 

Life 's but a walking shadow, a poor player j 

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage > 
And then is heard no more: it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing. . .^ 

I have cited the verses from " Macbeth," and those 
witches, phantoms, visions have recurred to my 
mind. . . . Alasl it is not visions, not fantastic, 
subterranean powers that are terrible; the crea- 
tions of Hoffmann are not dreadful, under what- 
soever form they may present themselves. . . . 
The terrible thing is that there is nothing terri- 
ble, that the very substance of life itself is petty, 
uninteresting— and insipid to beggary. Having 
once become permeated with this consciousness, 
having once tasted of this wormwood, no honey 
will ever seem sweet — and even that loftiest, 
sweetest happiness, the happiness of love, of 
complete friendship, of irrevocable devotion — 

1 " Macbeth," Act V, scene v. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



leri it loses all its charm; all its worth is anni- 
itted by its own pettiness, its brevity. Well, 
it: a man has loved, he has burned, he has f al- 
)yid words about eternal blLss, about immortal 
fOyments— and behold: it is long, long since 
[i last trace vanished of that worm which has 
:en out the last remnants of his withered 
igue. Thus late in autumn, on a frosty day, 
len everything is lifeless and dumb in the last 
ides of grass, on the verge of the denuded f or- 
t, the sun has but to emerge for an instant from 
e fog, to gaze intently at the chilled earth, and 
imediately, from all sides, gnats rise up; they 
olic in the warmth of his rays, they bustle and 
•stle upward, downward, they circle round one 
lother, . • . The sun hides himself, and the gnats 
ill to the earth in a soft rain— and there is an 
id to their momentary life. 


But are there no great conceptions, no great 
ords of consolation? Nationality, right, liberty, 
amanity, art? " Yes; those words do exist, and 
lany people live by them and for them. But 
evertheless, I have an idea that if Shakspeare 
rere to be bom again he would find no occasion 
[) disclaim his " Hamlet," his " Lear." His pene- 
rUing glance would not descry anything new in 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


human existence: the same motley and, in 
incoherent picture would still unfold itself befd 
him in its disquieting monotony. The same fl 
volity, the same cruelty, the same pressing J 
mand for blood, gold, filth, the same stale pfej 
sures, the same senseless sufferings in the nai| 
of ... • well, in the name of the same nonsenl 
which was ridiculed by Aristophanes three tba 
sand years ago, the same coarse lures to which a 
many-headed beast still yields as readily as e^ 
—in a word, the same anxious skipping of tl 
squirrel in the same old wheel, which has not evi 
been renewed. . . . Shakspeare would again mal 
Lear repeat his harsh: "There are no guil 
ones " — which, in other words, signifies: " The 
are no just"— and he also would say: "It 
enough 1" and he also would turn away.— Op 
thing only: perhaps, in contrast to the gloom 
tragic tyrant Richard, the ironical genius of tli 
great poet would like to draw another, more u] 
to-date tyrant, who is almost ready to belies 
in his own virtue and rests calmly at night 
complains of the over-dainty dinner at the 
time that his half -stifled victims are endeavi 
ing to comfort themselves by at least imaj 
him as Richard III. surrounded by the gb 
of the people he has murdered. . . . 

But to what purpose? 

Why demonstrate— and that by picking 
weighing one's words, by rounding and polish^ 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


one's speech— why demonstrate to gnats that 
they really are gnats? 


But art? . • . Beauty? . . . Yes, those are mighty 
words; they are, probably, mightier than those 
which I have mentioned above. The Venus of 
Melos, for example, is more indubitable than the 
Roman law, or than the principles of 1789. Men 
may retort— and how many times have I heard 
these retorts 1— that beauty itself is also a matter 
of convention, that to the Chinese it presents it- 
self in a totally different manner from what it 
does to the European. . . . But it is not the con- 
ventionality of art which disconcerts me; its per- 
ishableness, and again its perishableness,— its 
decay and dust— that is what deprives me of 
courage and of faith. Art, at any given mo- 
ment, is, I grant, more powerful than Nature it- 
self, because in it there is neither symphony of 
Beethoven nor picture of Ruysdael nor poem of 
Goethe— and only dull-witted pedants or con- 
scienceless babblers can still talk of art as a copy 
of Nature. But in the long run Nature is ir- 
resistible; she cannot be hurried, and sooner or 
later she will assert her rights. Unconsciously 
and infallibly obedient to law, she does not know 
art, as she does not know liberty, as she does not 
know good; moving onward from eternity, trans- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


mitted from eternity, she tolerates nothing im- 
mortal, nothing michangeable. . . . Man is her 
child; but the hmnan, the artificial is inimical to 
her, precisely because she strives to be unchange- 
able and immortal. Man is the child of Nature; 
but she is the universal mother, and she has no 
preferences : everything which exists in her bosom 
I has arisen only for the benefit of another and 
must, in due time, make way for that other— she 
j creates by destroying, and it is a matter of perfect 
indiff'erence to her what she creates, what she de- 
I stroys, if only life be not extirpated, if only death 
\ do not lose its rights. . . . And therefore she as 
calmly covers with mould the divine visage of 
Phidias's Jupiter as she does a plain pebble, and 
. delivers over to be devoured by the contemned 
I moth the most precious lines of Sophocles. Men, 
, it is true, zealously aid her in her work of exter- 
I mination; but is not the same elementary force, — 
is not the force of Nature shown in the finger of 
the barbarian who senselessly shattered the radiant 
brow of Apollo, in the beast-like howls with which 
he hurled the picture of Apelles into the fire? 
How are we poor men, poor artists, to come to 
an agreement with this deaf and dumb force, 
blind from its birth, which does not even triumph 
in its victories, but marches, ever marches on 
ahead, devouring all things? How are we to 
stand up against those heavy, coarse, intermina- 
bly and incessantly onrolling waves, how believe, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


n short, in the significance and worth of those 
perishable images which we, in the darkness, on 
bhe verge of the abyss, mould from the dust and 
for a mere instant? 


Aix this is so ... . but only the transitory is beau- 
tiful, Shakspeare has said; and Nature herself, in 
the unceasing play of her rising and vanishing 
forms, does not shun beauty. Is it not she who 
sedulously adorns the most momentary of her 
offspring— the petals of the flowers, the wings 
of the butterfly-with such charming colours? 
Is it not she who imparts to them such exquisite 
outhnes? It is not necessary for beauty to live 
forever in order to be immortal— one moment is 
sufficient for it. That is so; that is just, I grant 
you— but only in cases wher^ there is no per- 
sonality, where man is not, liberty is not: the 
faded wing of the butterfly comes back again, and 
a thousand years later, with the selfsame wing 
of the selfsame butterfly, necessity sternly and 
regularly and impartially fulfils its round .... 
but man does not repeat himself like the butter- 
fly, and the work of his hands, his art, his free 
creation once destroyed, is annihilated forever. 
• . . To him alone is it given to " create " . . . . but 
it is strange and terrible to articulate: " We are 
creators . . • . for an hour,"— as there once was, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


they say, a caliph for an hour.— Therein lies oui 
supremacy— and our curse: each one of these 
" creators " in himself —precisely he, not any one 
else, precisely that ego— seems to have been cre- 
ated with deliberate intent, on a plan previously 
designed; each one more or less dimly under- 
stands his significance, feels that he is akin to 
something higher, something eternal — and he 
lives, he is bound to live in the moment and for 
the moment.* Sit in the mud, my dear fellow, 
and strive toward heaven!— The greatest among 
us are precisely those who are the most pro- 
foundly conscious of all of that fundamental 
•contradiction; but in that case the question 
arises,— are the words " greatest, great " appro- 


But what shall be said of those to whom, despite 
a thorough desire to do so, one cannot apply those 
appellations even in the sense which is attributed 
to them by the feeble human tongue ?— What shall 
be said of the ordinary, commonplace, second- 
rate, third-rate toilers— whoever they may be— 
statesmen, learned men, artists— especially ar- 

1 How can one fail to recall at this point the words of Mephistopbe- 
les in "Faust": 

" Er (Grott) findet sich in einen ew'gen Glanze, 
Uns hat er in die Finstemiss gebracht— 
Und euch taugt einzig Tag und Nacfat." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tists? How force them to shake off their dumb 
indolence, their dejected perplexity, how draw 
them once more to the field of battle, if once the 
thought as to the vanity of everything human, of 
every activity which sets for itself a higher aim 
than the winning of daily bread, has once crept 
into their heads? By what wreaths are they lured 
on— they, for whom laurels and thorns have be- 
come equally insignificant? Why should they 
again subject themselves to the laughter of " the 
cold throng" or to "the condemnation of the 
dunce,"— of the old dimce who cannot forgive 
them for having turned away from the former 
idols; of the young dunce who demands that they 
shall immediately go down on their knees in his 
company, that they should lie prone before new, 
just-discovered idols? Why shall they betake 
themselves again to that rag-fair of phantoms, 
to that market-place where both the seller and the 
buyer cheat each other equally, where everything 
is so noisy, so loud— and yet so poor and worth- 
less? Why "with exhaustion in their bones" 
shall they interweave themselves again with that 
world where the nations, like peasant urchins on 
a festival day, floimder about in the mud for the 
sake of a handful of empty nuts, or admire with 
gaping mouths the wretched woodcuts, decorated 
with tinsel gold,— with that world where they had 
no right to life while they lived in it, and, deafen- 
ing themselves with their own shouts, each one 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


hastens with convulsive speed to a goal which he 
neither knows nor understands? No . . . • no • • • • 
It is enough .... enough . . • • enough! 


. . • The rest is silence,* . . . 

^ This is in English in the original. — TiukKSiATOR. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


* r>UT if we can admit the possibility of the 
JD supernatural, the possibility of its interven- 
tion in real life,— then allow me to inquire, what 
role is sound judgment bound to play after 
this? "—shouted Anton Stepanitch, crossing his 
arms on his stomach. 

Anton Stepanitch had held the rank of State 
Councillor,* had served in some wonderful de- 
partment, and, as his speech was interlarded with 
pauses and was slow and uttered in a bass voice, 
he enjoyed universal respect. Not long before 
the date of our story, " the good-for-nothing lit- 
tle Order of St. Stanislas had been stuck on him," 
as those who envied him expressed it. 

" That is perfectly just,"— remarked Skvore- 

" No one will dispute that,"— added Kinare- 

" I assent also,"— chimed in, in falsetto, from 
a comer the master of the house, Mr. Finoplen- 

^ The fifth (fit>m the top) of the fourteen grades in the Table oi 
Ranks, instituted by Peter the Great, which were to be won by ser- 
vice to the State.— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


"But I, I must confess, cannot assent, be- 
cause something supernatural has happened to 
me,"— said a man of medium stature and mid- 
dle age, with a protruding abdomen and a 
bald spot, who had been sitting silent before 
the stove up to that moment. The glances 
of all present in the room were turned upon 
him with curiosity and surprise— and silence 

This man was a landed proprietor of Kaluga, 
not wealthy, who had recently come to Peters- 
burg. He had once served in the hussars, had 
gambled away his property, resigned from the 
service and settled down in the country. The re- 
cent agricultural changes had cut off his reve- 
nues, and he had betaken himself to the capital 
in search of a snug little position. He possessed 
no abilities, and had no influential connections; 
but he placed great reliance on the friendship of 
an old comrade in the service, who had suddenly, 
without rhyme or reason, become a person of im- 
portance, and whom he had once aided to ad- 
minister a sound thrashing to a card-sharper. 
Over and above that he counted upon his own 
luck— and it had not betrayed him; several days 
later he obtained the post of inspector of govern- 
ment storehouses, a profitable, even honourable 
position, which did not require extraordinary tal- 
ents: the storehouses themselves existed only in 
contemplation, and no one even knew with cer- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


tainty what they were to contain,— but they had 
been devised as a measure of governmental econ- 

Anton Stepanitch was the first to- break the 
general silence. 

" What, my dear sir? "—he began. " Do you 
seriously assert that something supernatural— I 
mean to say, incompatible with the laws of nature 
—has happened to you? " 

" I do,"— returned " my dear sir," whose real 
name was Porfiry Kapitonitch. 

" Incompatible with the laws of nature? "— 
energetically repeated Anton Stepanitch, who ev- 
idently liked that phrase. 

" Precisely .... yes; precisely the sort of thing 
you allude to." 

" This is astonishing! What think you, gen- 
tlemen? " — Anton Stepanitch endeavoured to 
impart to his features an ironical expression, but 
without result— or, to speak more accurately, the 
only result was to produce the effect that Mr. 
State Councillor smelt a bad odour.—" Will not 
you be so kind, my dear sir,"— he went on, ad- 
dressing the landed proprietor from Kaluga,— 
" as to communicate to us the particulars of such a 
curious event? " 

" Why not? Certainly! "—replied the landed 
proprietor, and moving forward to the middle 
of the room in an easy manner, he spoke as fol- 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


I HAVE, gentlemen, as you are probably aware, 
—or as you may not be aware,— a small estate in 
Kozyol County. ' I formerly derived some profit 
from it— but now, of course, nothing but unplea- 
santness is to be anticipated. However, let us 
put politics aside! Well, sir, on that same estate 
I have a "wee little" manor: a vegetable gar- 
den, as is proper, a tiny pond with little carp, 
and some sort of buildings— well, and a small 
wing for my own sinful body. ... I am a bach- 
elor. So, sir, one day— about six years ago— I 
had returned home rather late ; I had been playing 
cards at a neighbour's house— but I beg you to 
observe, I was not tipsy, as the expression goes. 
I undressed, got into bed, and blew out the light. 
And just imagine, gentlemen; no sooner had I 
blown out the light, than something began to 
rummage under my bed! Is it a rat? I thought. 
No, it was not a rat : it clawed and fidgeted and 

scratched itself At last it began to flap its 


It was a dog— that was clear. But where had 
the dog come from? I keep none myself. " Can 
some stray animal have run in? " I thought. I 
called to my servant; his name is Fflka. The 
man entered with a candle. 

" What 's this,"— says I,—" my good Fflka? 
How lax thou art! A dog has intruded himself 
under my bed." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


"What dog?"— says he. 

"How should I know?"— ^ys I;— "that's 
thy affair— not to allow thy iiiaster to be dis- 

My Filka bent down, and began to pass the 
candle about under the bed. 

"Why,"— says he,— "there 's no dog here." 

I bent down also; in fact there was no dog. . . . 
Here was a marvel! I turned my eyes on Filka: 
he was smiling. 

" Fool,"— said I to him,—" what art thou grin- 
ning about? When thou didst open the door the 
dog probably took and sneaked out into the ante- 
room. But thou, gaper, didst notice nothing, 
because thou art eternally asleep. Can it be that 
thou thinkest I am drunk? " 

He attempted to reply, but I drove him out, 
curled myself up in a ring, and heard nothing 
more that night. 

But on the following night— just imagine!— 
the same thing was repeated. No sooner had I 
blown out the light than it began to claw and flap 
its ears. Again I summoned Filka, again he 
looked under the bed— again nothing! I sent 
him away, blew out the light,— phew, damn it! 
there was the dog still. And a dog it certainly 
was: I could hear it breathing and rummaging in 
its hair with its teeth in search of fleas ... so 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" Fflka! "— says I,— "come hither without a 
light! "... He entered. ..." Well, now,"— says 
I, "dost thou hear? . . ." 

"I do,"— said he. I could not see him, but I 
felt that the fellow was quailing. 

" What dost thou make of it? "—said I. 

" What dost thou command me to make of it, 
Porfiry Kapitonitch? ... *T is an instigation of 
the Evil One!" 

" Thou art a lewd fellow ; hold thy tongue with 
thy instigation of the Evil One." . . . But the 
voices of both of us were like those of birds, and 
we were shaking as though in a fever— in the 
.darkness. I lighted a candle: there was no dog, 
and no noise whatever— only Fflka and I as 
white as clay. And I must inform you, gentle- 
men—you can believe me or not— but from that 
night forth for the space of six weeks the same 
thing went on. At last I even got accustomed to 
it and took to extinguishing my light because I 
cannot sleep with a light. " Let him fidget! " I 
thought. " It does n't harm me." 

" But— I see— that you do not belong to the 
cowardly squad," -^interrupted Anton Stepa- 
nitch, with a half -scornful, half -condescending 
laugh. " The hussar is immediately perceptible! " 

" I should not be frightened at you, in any 
case,"— said Porfiry Kapitonitch, and for a mo- 
ment he really did look Uke a hussar.—" But lis- 
ten further." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


A neighbour came to me, the same one with 
i;vhom I was in the habit of playing cards. He 
dined with me on what Gk)d had sent, and lost 
fifty rubles to me for his visit; night was drawing 
on — it was time for him to go. But I had cal- 
culations of my own:—" Stop and spend the 
night with me, Vasfly Vasflitch; to-morrow thou 
wilt win it back, God willing." 

My Vasfly Vasflitch pondered and pondered — 
and stayed. I ordered a bed to be placed for 
him in my own chamber. . . . Well, sir, we went 
to bed, smoked, chattered,— chiefly about the fem- 
inine sex, as is fitting in bachelor society,— and 
laughed, as a matter of course. I look; Vasfly 
Vasflitch has put out his candle and has turned 
his back on me; that signifies: ^^Schlafen Sie 
wohV I waited a little and extinguished my 
candle also. And imagine: before I had time to 
think to myself, " What sort of performance will 
there be now? " my dear little animal began to 
make a row. And that was not all; he crawled 
out from imder the bed, walked across the room, 
clattering his claws on the floor, waggling his 
ears, and suddenly collided with a chair which 
stood by the side of Vasfly Vasflitch's bed! 

"Porfiry Kapitonitch,"— says Vasfly Vasf- 
litch, and in such an indifferent voice, you know, 
— " I did n*t know that thou hadst taken to keep- 
ing a dog. What sort of an animal is it— a 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


" I have no dog,"— said I,—" and I never have 
had one," 

"Thou hast not indeed! But what 's this? " 

" What is this? "—said I-—" See here now; 
light the candle and thou wilt find out for thy- 

"It is n't a dog?" 


Vasfly Vasilitch turned over in bed.— "But 
thou art jesting, damn it? " 

" No, I 'm not jesting."— I hear him go 
scratch, scratch with a match, and that thing does 
not stop, but scratches its side. The flame flashed 
up ... . and basta! There was not a trace of a 
dog! Vasfly Vasflitch stared at me— and I 
stared at him. 

" What sort of a trick is this? "—said he. 

" Why,"— said I,—" this is such a trick that if 
thou wert to set Socrates himself on one side and 
Frederick the Great on the other even they 
couldn't make head or tail of it."— And there- 
upon I told him all in detail. Up jumped my 
Vasfly Vasflitch as though he had been singed! 
He could n't get into his boots. 

" Horses! "-he yeUed-" horses! " 

I began to argue with him, but in vain. He 
simply groaned. 

" I won't stay,"— he shouted,—" not a min- 
ute!— Of course, after this, thou art a doomed 
man!— Horses! . . . ." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


But I prevailed upon him. Only his bed was 
dragged out into another room— and night-lights 
were lighted everywhere. In the morning, at tea, 
he recovered his dignity; he began to give me ad- 

" Thou shouldst try absenting thyself from the 
house for several days, Porfiry Kapitonitch," he 
said: " perhaps that vile thing would leave thee." 

But I must tell you that he— that neighbour 
of mine— had a capacious mind! he worked his 
mother-in-law so famously among other things: 
he palmed off a note of hand on her; which sig- 
nifies that he chose the most vulnerable moment I 
She became like silk: she gave him a power of 
attorney over all her property— what more would 
you have? But that was a great affair— to twist 
his mother-in-law round his finger— wasn't it, 
hey? Judge for yourselves. But he went away 
from me somewhat discontented; I had punished 
him to the extent of another hundred rubles. He 
even swore at me: " Thou art ungrateful,"— he 
said, " thou hast no feeling; " but how was I to 
blame for that? Well, this is in parenthesis — 
but I took his suggestion under consideration. 
That same day I drove off to town and estab- 
lished myself in an inn, with an acquaintance, an 
old man of the Old Ritualist sect.^ 

He was a worthy old man, although a trifle 

1 Those who reject the official and necessary corrections made in , 
the Scriptures and Church service books in the reign of Peter the 
Great's fether.— Transultob. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


barsh, because of loneliness: bis wbole family 
were dead. Only be did not favour tobacco at 
all,* and felt a great loatbing for dogs; I believe, 
for example, tbat ratber tban admit a dog into 
tbe room be would bave rent bimself in twain! 
" For bow is it possible? "—be said. " Tbere in 
my room, on tbe wall, tbe Sovereign Lady berself 
deigns to dwell; ^ and sball a filtby dog tbrust bis 
accursed snout in tbere? "—Tbat was ignorance, 
of course! However, tbis is my opinion: if any 
man bas been voucbsafed wisdom, let bim bold 
to it! 

" But you are a great pbilosopber, I see," — in- 
terrupted Anton Stepanitcb again, witb tbe same 
laugb as before. 

Tbis time Porf fry Kapitonitcb even scowled. 

"Wbat sort of a pbilosopber I am no one 
knows,"— be said as bis moustacbe twitcbed in a 
surly manner:—" but I would gladly take you as 
a pupil." 

We all fairly bored our eyes into Anton Ste- 
panitcb; eacb one of us expected an arrogant re- 
tort or at least a ligbtning glance. • . . But .Mr. 
State Councillor altered bis smile from scorn to 
indifference, tben yawned, dangled bis foot— and 
tbat was all! 

^ The Old Ritualists oppose tea, coffee, and tobacco, chiefly, it would 
seem, because they are *' newfangled,** having come into use after 
the schism. Later on they invented curious religious reasons for 
their denunciation of these and of her things. — Translator. 

2 The holy picture {ikSna) of the i^Iother of Christ.— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


So then, I settled down at that old man's 
house— [went on Porfiry Kapitonitch].— He 
assigned me a room " for acquaintance's " sake,— 
not of the best; he himself lodged there also, be- 
hind a partition— and that was all I required. 
But what tortures I did undergo! The chamber 
was small, it was hot, stifling, and there were 
flies, and such sticky ones; in the corner was a re- 
markably large case for images, with ancient holy 
pictures; their garments were dim and puffed 
out; the air was fairly infected with olive-oil, 
and some sort of a spice in addition; on the bed- 
stead were two down beds; if you moved a pil- 
low, out ran a cockroach from beneath it. . . I 
drank an incredible amount of tea, out of sheer 
tedium— it was simply horrible! I got into bed; 
it was impossible to sleep.- And on the other side 
of the partition my host was sighing and grunt- 
ing and reciting his prayers. I heard him begin 
to snore— and very lightly and courteously, in 
old-fashioned style. I had long since extin- 
guished my candle— only the shrine-lamp was 
twinkling in front of the holy pictures. ... A 
hindrance, of course! So I took and rose up 
softly, in my bare feet: I reached up to the lamp 
and blew it out. . . . Nothing happened.— 
"Aha!" I thought: "this means that he won't 
make a fuss in the house of strangers." . . . 
But no sooner had I lain down on the bed than 
the row began again! The thing clawed, and 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


scratched himself and flapped his ears • . • • 
well, just as I wanted him to. Goodl I lay there 
and waited to see what would happen. I heard 
the old man wake up. 

" Master/*— said he,—" hey there, master? " 

" What *s wanted? *'— said I. 

" Was it thou who didst put out the shrine- 
lamp?"— And without awaiting my reply, he 
suddenly began to mumble: 

" What 's that? What 's that? A dog? A 
dog? Akh, thou damned Nikonian! " * 

" Wait a bit, old man,"— said I,—" before 
thou cursest; but it would be better for thee to 
come hither thyself. Things deserving of won- 
der are going on here,"— said I. 

The old man fussed about behind the partition 
and entered my room with a candle, a slender 
one, of yellow wax ; and I was amazed as I looked 
at him! He was all bristling, with shaggy ears 
and vicious eyes like those of a polecat; on his 
head was a small skull-cap of white felt; his beard 
reached to his girdle and was white also; and he 
had on a waistcoat with brass buttons over his 
shirt, and fur boots on his feet, and he dissemi- 
nated an odour of juniper. In that condition he 
went up to the holy pictures, crossed himself 
thrice with two fingers ^ lighted the shrine-lamp, 

1 The Old Ritualists* most opprobrious epithet, designating a mem- 
ber of the State Church, which accepted the emendations instituted 
by Patriarch Nikon referred to in a previous note. —Translator. 

^ One of the hotly disputed points of difference between the Old 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


crossed himself again, and turning to me, merely 

"Explain thyself!" 

Thereupon, without the least delay, I conmiu- 
nicated to him all the circumstances. The old 
man listened to all my explanations without ut- 
tering the smallest word; he simply kept shaking 
his head. Then he sat down on my bed, still 
maintaining silence. He scratched his breast, the 
back of his head, and other places, and still re- 
mained silent. 

" Wen, Feodiil Ivanitch,"-said I, " what is 
thy opinion: is this some sort of visitation of the 
Evil One, thinkest thou ? " 

The old man stared at me.— "A pretty thing 
thou hast invented ! A visitation of the Evil One, 
forsooth! 'T would be all right at thy house, 
thou tobacco-user,— but *t is quite another thing 
here! Only consider how many holy things there 
are here! And thou must needs have a visita- 
tion of the devil!— And if it is n't that, what 
is it? " 

The old man relapsed into silence, scratched 
himself again, and at last he said, but in a dull 
sort of way, because his moustache kept crawl- 
ing into his mouth: 

" Go thou to the town of Byeleff. There is 
only one man who can help thee. And that man 

Ritualists and the Aiembers of the State Church is in their manner of 
crossing themselves. The latter use the forefinger, middle finger, and 
thumb joined at the tips. —Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


dwells in Byeleff ; * he is one of our people. If 
he takes a fancy to help thee, that 's thy good 
luck; if he does n't take a fancy, — so it must 

" But how am I to find him? ''—said I. 

"We can give thee directions,"— said he;— 
" only why dost thou call this a visitation of the 
devil? 'T is a vision, or a sign; but thou wilt not 
be able to comprehend it; 't is not within thy 
flight. And now lie down and sleep under 
Christ's protection, dear little father; I will fumi- 
gate with incense; and in the morning we will 
take counsel together. The morning is wiser than 
the evening, thou knowest." 

Well, sir, and we did take counsel together 
in the morning— only I came near choking to 
death with that same incense. And the old man 
instructed me after this wise: that when I had 
reached Byeleff I was to go to the public square, 
and in the second shop on the right iilquire for a 
certain Prokhoritch; and having found Prokho- 
ritch, I was to hand him a document. And the 
whole document consisted of a scrap of paper, 
on which was written the. following: " In the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Spirit, Amen. To Sergyei Prokhoritch 
Pervushin. Trust this man. Feodiily Ivdno- 
vitch." And below: " Send some cabbages, for 
God's sake." 

^ In the goverament of Tula, central Russia.— Trakslatob. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


I thanked the old man, and without further 
ado ordered my tarantas to be harnessed, and set 
off for Byeleff. For I argued in this way: ad- 
mitting that my nocturnal visitor did not cause 
me much grief, still, nevertheless, it was not quite 
decorous for a nobleman and an officer— what do 
you think about it? 

" And did you really go to Byeleff? '*— whis- 
pered Mr. Finoplentoff . 

I did, straight to Byeleff. I went to the 
square, and inquired in the second shop on the 
right for Prokhoritch. " Is there such a man? " 
— I asked. 

" There is,"— I was told. 

" And where does he live? '* 

" On the Okd, beyond the vegetable-gardens." 

" In whose house? " * 

"His own." 

I wended my way to the Oka, searched out his 
house, that is to say, not actually a house, but a 
downright hovel. I beheld a man in a patched 
blue overcoat and a tattered cap,— of the petty 
burgher class, judging by his appearance,— 
standing with his back to me, and digging in 
his cabbage-garden. — I went up to him. 

" Are you such and such a one? "—said I. 

^Formerly, houses were not numbered, and addresses ran: '*In 
the house of * * * " (the proprietor, man or woman), often with 
many complicated directions added to designate the special house. 
These ancient addresses still remain, along with the numbers or 
alone, especially on many of the houses in Moscow, and in country 
towns. — Teanslatob. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


He turned round,— and to tell you the truth, 
such piercing eyes I have never seen in all my life. 
But his ^hole face was no bigger than one's fist; 
his beard was wedge-shaped, and his lips v^re 
sunken: he was an aged man. 

" I am he,''— he said.—" What do you wanta? " 

"Why, here,'— said I;— "this is what I 
wanta,"— and I placed the docmnent in his hand. 
He gazed at me very intently, and said: 

" Please come into the house; I cannot read 
without my spectacles." 

Well, sir, he and I went into his kennel — actu- 
ally, a regular kennel; poor, bare, crooked; it 
barely held together. On the wall was a holy 
picture of ancient work,* as black as a coal; only 
the whites of the eyes were fairly burning in the 
faces of the holy people. He took some round 
iron spectacles from a small table, placed them 
on his nose, perused the writing, and through his 
spectacles again scrutinised me. 

" You have need of me? " 

" I have,"— said I,—" that 's the fact." 

"Well,"— said he, "if you have, then make 
your statement, and I will listen." 

And just imagine; he sat down, and pulling a 
checked handkerchief from his pocket, he spread 
it out on his knees— and the handkerchief was 
full of holes— and gazed at me as solenmly as 

^ Old Ritualists will tolerate no others. Neither will they employ the 
words *• buy " or " sell " in connection with these ikdnas; they say 
** exchange.*'— Tbakslator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


though he had been a senator,^ or some minister 
or other; and did not ask me to sit down. And 
what was still more astonishing, I suddenly felt 
mysfelf growing timid, so timid .... simply, my 
soul sank into my heels. He pierced me through 
and through with his eyes, and that 's all there is 
to be said! But I recovered my self-possession, 
and narrated to him my whole story. He re- ^ 
mained silent for a while, shrank together, mowed 
with his lips, and then began to interrogate me, 
still as though he were a senator, so majestically 
and without haste. " What is your name? **— he 
asked. "How old are you? Who were your 
parents? Are you a bachelor or married?"— 
Then he began to mow with his lips again, 
frowned, thrust out his finger and said: 

" Do reverence to the holy image of the hon- 
ourable saints of Solovetzk,^ Zosim and Sav- 

I made a reverence to the earth, and did not 
rise to my feet; such awe and submission did I 
feel for that man that I believe I would have in- 
stantly done anytiiing whatsoever he might have 
ordered mel . . . . I see that you are smiling, 
gentlemen; but I was in no mood for laughing 
then, by Heaven I was not. 

" Rise, sir,"— he said at last.—" It is possible 
to help you. This has not been sent to you by 

1 The Senate In Russia Is the Supreme Court of Appeals, and the 
senators are appointed, not elected. — ^Translator. 
* A famous monastery on an island in the White Sea.— Translator. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


way of punishment, but as a warning; it signifies 
that you are being looked after; some one is pray- 
ing earnestly for you. Go now to the bazaar and 
buy yourself a bitch, which you must keep by 
you day and night, without ceasing. Your visions 
will cease, and your dog will prove necessary to 
you into the bargain." 

A flash of light seemed suddenly to illuminate 
me; how those words did please mel I made obei- 
sance to Prokhoritch, and was on the point of 
departing, but remembered that it was impossible 
for me not to show him my gratitude; I drew a 
three-ruble note from my pocket. But he put 
aside my hand and said to me: 

" Give it to our chapel, or to the poor, for this 
service is gratis." 

Again I made him an obeisance, nearly to the 
girdle, and immediately marched off to the ba- 
zaar. And fancy, no sooner had I begun to ap- 
proach the shops when behold, a man in a frieze 
cloak advanced to meet me, and under his arm he 
carried a setter bitch, two months old^ with light- 
brown hair, a white muzzle, and white fore paws. 

" Halt! " said I to the man in the frieze cloak; 
" what will you take for her? " • 

" Two rubles in silver.'' 


The man was astonished, and thought the gen- 
tleman had lost his mind— but I threw a bank- 
note in his teeth, seized the bitch in my arms, and 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


rushed to my tarantas. The coachman harnessed 
up the horses briskly, and that same evening I 
was at home. The dog sat on my lap during the 
whole journey— and never uttered a sound; but 
I kept saying to her: " Tresorushkol Treso- 
rushko I " I immediately gave her food and 
water, ordered straw to be brought, put her to 
bed, and dashed into bed myself. I blew out the 
light; darkness reigned. 

"Come now, begin!*'— said I.— Silence.— 
" Do begin, thou thus and so! ''—Not a sound. 
It was laughable. I began to take courage.— 
" Come now, begin, thou thus and so, and 't other 
thing!" But nothing happened— there was a 
complete lull! The only thing to be heard was 
the bitch breathing hard. 

" Fflka! "-I shouted;-" Fflkal Come hither, 
stupid man! "—He entered.— " Dost thou hear 
the dog? " 

" No, master,"— said he,—" I don't hear any- 
thing,"— and began to laugh. 

"And thou wilt not hear it again forever! 
Here 's half a ruble for thee for vodka! " 

" Please let me kiss your hand,"— said the fool, 
and crawled to me in the dark. . . . My joy was 
great, I can tell you! 

" And was that the end of it all? "—asked An- 
ton Stepanitch, no longer ironically. 

The visions did cease, it is true— and there 
were no disturbances of any sort— but wait, that 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


was not the end of the whole matter. My Treso- 
rushko began to grow, and turned out a cunning 
rogue. Thick-tailed, heavy, flop-eared, with 
drooping dewlaps, she was a regular " take-ad- 
vance,*'— a thoroughgoing good setter. And 
moreover, she became greatly attached to me. 
Hunting is bad in our parts,— well, but as I had 
set up a dog I had to supply myself with a gun 
also. I began to roam about the surrounding 
country with my Tresor; sometimes I would 
knock over a hare (my heavens, how she did 
course those hares!), and sometimes a quail or a 
duck. But the chief point was that Tresor never, 
never strayed a step away from me. Wherever I 
went, there she went also; I even took her to the 
bath with me— truly! One of our young gentle- 
women undertook to eject me from her drawing- 
room on account of Tresor; biit I raised such a 
row that I smashed some of her window-panes! 

Well, sir, one day— it happened in summer. 
.... And I must tell you that there was such a 
drought that no one could recall its like; the air 
was full of something which was neither smoke 
nor fog; there was an odour of burning, and mist, 
and the sim was like a red-hot cannon-ball; and 
the dust was such that one could not leave ofi^ 
sneezing! People went about with their mouths 
gaping open, just like crows. 

It bored me to sit at home constantly in com- 
plete undress, behind closed shutters; and by the 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


way, the heat was beginning to moderate. . . . 
And so, gentlemen, I set off afoot to the house of 
one of my neighbours- This neighbour of mine 
lived about a verst from me,— and was really a 
benevolent lady. She was still young and bloom- 
ing, and of the most attractive exterior; only she 
had a fickle disposition. But that is no detriment 
in the feminine sex; it even affords pleasure. . . . 
So, then, I trudged to her porch— and that trip 
seemed very salt to me! Well, I thought, Nim- 
fodora Semyonovna will regale me with bilberry- 
water, and other refreshments— and I had al- 
ready grasped the door-handle when, suddenly, 
around the corner of the servants' cottage there 
arose a trampling of feet, a squeaUng and shout- 
ing of small boys. ... I looked round. O Lord, 
my God! Straight toward me was dashing a 
huge, reddish beast, which at first sight I did not 
recognise as a dog; its jaws were gaping, its eyes 
were blood-shot, its hair stood on end. . . . Be- 
fore I could take breath the monster leaped upon 
the porch, elevated itself on its hind legs, and fell 
straight on my breast. What do you think of 
that situation? I was swooning with fright, and 
could not lift my arms; I was completely stupe- 
fied; .... all I could see were the white tusks 
right at the end of my nose, the red tongue all 
swathed in foam. But at that moment another 
dark body soared through the air in front of me, 
like a ball— it was my darling Tresor ^ming to 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


my rescue ; and she went at that beast's throat like 
a leech! The beast rattled hoarsely in the throat, 
gnashed its teeth, staggered back. . . . With one 
jerk I tore open the door, and found myself in 
the anteroom. I stood there, beside myself with 
terror, threw my whole body against the lock, and 
listened to a desperate battle which was in prog- 
ress on the porch. I began to shout, to call for 
help; every one in the house took alarm. Nim- 
fodora Semyonovna ran up with hair unbraided; 
voices clamoured in the courtyard— and suddenly 
there came a cry: " Hold him, hold him, lock the 

I opened the door,— just a crack,— and looked. 
The monster was no longer on the porch. People 
were rushing in disorder about the courtyard, 
flourishing their arms, picking up billets of wood 
from the ground— just as though they had gone 
mad. " To the village! It has run to the vil- 
lage!" shrieked shrilly a peasant-woman in a 
pointed coronet head-dress of unusual dimensions, 
thrusting her head through a garret-window. I 
emerged from the house. 

" Where is Tresor? "—said I.— And at that 
moment I caught sight of my saviom*. She was 
walking away from the gate, limping, all bitten, 
and covered with blood. . . 

"But what was it, after all?"— I asked the 
people, as they went circling round the court- 
yard like crazy folk. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" A mad dog! "—they answered me, " belong- 
ing to the Count; it has been roving about here 
since yesterday." 

We had a neighbour, a Count; he had intro- 
duced some very dreadful dogs from over-sea. 
My knees gave way beneath me; I hastened 
to the mirror and looked to see whether I had been 
bitten. No ; God be thanked, nothing was visible ; 
only, naturally, my face was all green; but Nim- 
f odora Semyonovna was lying on the couch, and 
clucking like a hen. And that was easily to be un- 
derstood: in the &st place, nerves; in the second 
place, sensibility. But she came to herself, and 
asked me in a very languid way: was I alive? I 
told her that I was, and that Tresor was my 

"Akh,"— said she,— "what nobility! And I 
suppose the mad dog smothered her? " 

" No,"— said I,—" it did not smother her, but 
it wounded her seriously." 

"Akh,"— said she,— "in that case, she must 
be shot this very moment! " 

"Nothing of the sort,"— said I;— "I won't 
agree to that; I shall try to cure her." .... 

In the meanwhile, Tresor began to scratch at 
the door; I started to open it for her. 

"Akh,"— cried she,— " what are you doing? 
Why, she will bite us all dreadfully! " 

" Pardon me,"— said I,—" the poison does not 
take effect so soon." 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


"Akh/'— said she,— "how is that possible? 
Why, you have gone out of your uiind! *' 

" Nimf6tehka,"-said I,-"cahn thyself; lis- 
ten to reason. . . /' 

But all at once she began to scream: " Go away; 
go away this instant with your disgusting dog! " 

" I will go,"-said I. 

" Instantly,''— said she,— "this very secondl 
Take thyself off, brigand,"— said she,— "and 
don't dare ever to show yourself in my sight 
again. Thou mightest go mad thyself I " 

" Very good, ma'am,"— said I; " only give me 
an equipage, for I am afraid to go home on foot 

She riveted her eyes on me. " Give, give him a 
calash, a carriage, a drozhky, whatever he wants, 
— anjiihing, for the sake of getting rid of him 
as quickly as possible. Akh, what eyesl akh, what 
eyes he has I "—And with these words she flew out 
of the room, dealing a maid who was entering 
a box on the ear,— and I heard her go off into 
another fit of hysterics.— And you may believe 
me or not, gentlemen, but from that day forth 
I broke off all acquaintance with Nimfodora 
Semyonovna; and, taking all things into mature 
consideration, I cannot but add that for that cir- 
cumstance also I owe my friend TresOT a debt of 
gratitude until I lie down in my coffin. 

Well, sir, I ordered a calash to be harnessed, 
placed Tresor in it, and drove off home with her. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


At home I looked her over, washed her wounds, 
and thought to myself: " I '11 take her to-morrow, 
as soon as it is light, to the wizard in Efrem 
County. Now this wizard was an old peasant, 
a wonderful man; he would whisper over water 
— but others say that he emitted serpents* venom 
on it— and give it to you to drink, and your mal- 
ady would instantly disappear. By the way, I 
thought, I '11 get myself bled in Efremovo; 't is 
a good remedy for terror; only, of course, not 
from the arm, but from the bleeding-vein. 

" But where is that place— the bleeding- vein? " 
—inquired Finoplentoff, with bashful curiosity. 

Don't you know? That spot on the fist close 
to the thumb, on which one shakes snuff from 
the horn.— Just here, see! 'T is the very best 
place for blood-letting; therefore, judge for your- 
selves; from the arm it will be venal blood, while 
from this spot it is sparkling. The doctors don't 
know that, and don't understand it; how should 
they, the sluggards, the dumb idiots? Black- 
smiths chiefly make use of it. And what skil- 
ful fellows they are! They '11 place their chisel 
on the spot, give it a whack with their hammer— 
and the deed is done! .... Well, sir, while I 
was meditating in this wise, it had grown entirely 
dark out of doors, and it was time to go to sleep. 
I lay down on my bed, and Tresor, of course, was 
there also. But whether it was because of my 
fright or of the stifling heat, or because the fleas 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


or my thoughts were bothersome, at any rate, I 
could not get to sleep. Such distress fell upon 
me as it is impossible to describe; and I kept 
drinking water, and opening the window, and 
thrumming the " Kamarynskaya " * on the guitar, 
with Italian variations. ... In vain! I felt 
impelled to leave the room,— and that 's all there 
was to it. At last I made up my mind. I took a 
pillow, a coveriet, and a sheet, and wended my 
way across the garden to the hay-barn; well, and 
there I settled myself. And there things were 
agreeable to me, gentlemen; the night was still, 
extremely still, only now and then a breeze as \ 
soft as a woman's hand would blow across my j 
cheek, and it was very cool; the hay was fragrant I 
as tea, the katydids were rasping in the apple- 
trees; then suddenly a quail would emit its call— 
and you would feel that he was taking his ease, 
the scamp, sitting in the dew with his mate. . . . 
And the sky was so magnificent; the stars were 
twinkling, and sometimes a little cloud, as white 
as wadding, would float past, and even it would | 
hardly stir. ... 1 

At this point in the narrative, Skvorevitch 
sneezed; Kinarevitch, who never lagged behind 
his comrade in anything, sneezed also. Anton 
Stepanitch cast a glance of approbation at both. 

Well, sir— [went on Porfiry Kapitonitch],— j 

1 A vivacious and favourite popular dance-tune. It is several centuries j 
old, and of interesting historical origin.— Translator. I 

850 1 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC ■ | 


so I lay there, and still I could not get to sleep. 
A fit of meditation had seized upon me; and I 
pondered chiefly over the great marvel, how that 
Prokhoritch had rightly explained to me about 
the warning— and why such wonders should hap- 
pen to me in particular. ... I was astonished, 
in fact, because I could not understand it at all 
— while Tresorushko whimpered as she curled 
herself up on the hay; her wounds were paining 
her. And I '11 tell you another thing that kept 
me from sleeping— you wiU hardly believe it; the 
moon! It stood right in front of me, so roimd 
and big and yellow and flat; and it seemed to me 
as though it were staring at me — by Heaven it 
did; and so arrogantly, importunately. ... At last 
I stuck my tongue out at it, I really did. Come, 
I thought, what art thou so curious about? I 
turned away from it; but it crawled into my ear, 
it illuminated the back of my head, and flooded 
me as though with rain; I opened my eyes, and 
what did I see? It made every blade of grass, 
every wretched little blade in the hay, the 
most insignificant spider's web, stand out dis- 
tinctly! " Well, look, then! " said I. There was 
no help for it. I propped my head on my hand 
and began to stare at it. But I could not keep it 
up ; if you will believe it, my eyes began to stick 
out like a hare's and to open very wide indeed, 
just as though they did not know what sleep was 
like. I think I could have eaten up ever3rthing 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


with those same eyes- The gate of the hay-bam 
stood wide open; I could see for a distance of five 
versts out on the plain; and distinctly, not in the 
usual way on a moonlight night. So I gazed and 
gazed, and did not even wink. . . . And sud- 
denly it seemed to me as though something were 
waving about far, far away .... exactly as 
though things were glimmering indistinctly be- 
fore my eyes. Some time elapsed ; again a shadow 
leaped across my vision,— a little nearer now; 
then again, still nearer. What is it? I thought. 
Can it be a hare? No, I thought, it is larger tiban 
a hare, and its gait is unlike that of a hare. I 
continued to look, and again the shadow showed 
itself, and it was moving now across the pasture- 
land (and the pasture-land was whitish from the 
moonlight) like a very large spot; it was plain 
that it was some sort of a wild beast— a fox or 
a wolf. My heart contracted within me .... 
but what was I afraid of, after all? Are n't there 
plenty of wild animals running about the fields 
by night? But my curiosity was stronger than 
my fears; I rose up, opened my eyes very wide, 
and suddenly turned cold all over. I fairly 
froze rigid on the spot, as though I had been 
buried in ice up to my ears ; and why? The Lord 
only knows! And I saw the shadow growing 
bigger and bigger, which meant that it was mak- 
ing straight for the hay-barn. . . . And then it 
became apparent to me that it really was a large, 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


big-headed wild beast. • * . It dashed onward 
like a whirlwind, like a bullet. ... Grood heav- 
ens! What was it? Suddenly it stopped short, 
as though it scented something. . . . Why, 
it was the mad dog I had encountered that day! 
'T was he, 't was he! O Lord! And I could not 
stir a finger, I could not shout. ... It ran to the 
gate, glared about with its eyes, emitted a howl, 
and dashed straight for me on the hay! 

But out of the hay, like a lion, sprang my Tre- 
sor; and then the struggle began. The two 
clinched jaw to jaw, and rolled over the groimd 
in a ball! What took place further I do not re- 
member; all I do remember is that I flew head 
over heels across them, just as I was, into the 
garden, into the house, and into my own bed- 
room! .... I almost dived under the bed- 
there *s no use in concealing the fact. And what 
leaps, what bounds I made in the garden! You 
would have taken me for the leading ballerina 
who dances before the Emperor Napoleon on the 
day of his Angel— and even she could n't have 
overtaken me. But when I had recovered myself 
a little, I immediately routed out the entire house- 
hold; I ordered them all to arm themselves, and 
I myself took a sword and a revolver. (I must 
confess that I had purchased that revolver after 
the Emancipation, in case of need, you know- 
only I had hit upon such a beast of a pedlar that 
out of three charges two inevitably missed fire.) 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


Well, sir, I took all this, and in this guise we sal- 
lied forth, in a regular horde, with staves and 
lanterns, and directed our footsteps toward the 
hay-bam. We reached it and called — nothing 
was to be heard; we entered the bam at last. 
.... And what did we see? My poor Treso- 
rushko lay dead, with her throat slit, and that ac- 
cursed beast had vanished without leaving a trace ! 

Then, gentlemen, I began to bleat like a calf, 
and I will say it without shame ; I fell down on the 
body of my twofold rescuer, so to speak, and 
kissed her head for a long time. And there I 
remained in that attitude until my old house- 
keeper, Praskovya, brought me to my senses (she 
also had run out at the uproar) . 

" Why do you grieve so over the dog, Porfiry 
Stepanitch? "—sard she. " You will surely catch 
cold, which Gtod forbid!" (I was very lightly 
clad.) "And if that dog lost her life in saving 
you, she ought to reckon it as a great favour! " 

Although I did not agree with Praskovya, I 
went back to the house. And the mad dog was 
shot on the following day by a soldier from the 
garrison. And it must have been that that was 
the end appointed by Fate to the dog, for the 
soldier fired a gun for the first time in his life, 
although he had a medal for service in the year 
'12. So that is the supernatural occurrence which 
happened to me. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


HE narrator ceased speaking and began to fill 
s pipe. But we all exchanged glances of sur- 

" But perhaps you lead a very upright life," 
-began Mr, Finoplentoff,— " and so by way of 
;ward . • . . " But at that word he faltered, 
)r he saw that Porf iry Kapitonitch's cheeks were 
^ginning to swell out and turn red, and his eyes 
K) were beginning to pucker up — evidently the 
tan was on the point of breaking out. . . . 

*' But admitting the possibility of the super- 
atural, the possibility of its interference in 
T-eryday life, so to speak," — began Anton Ste- 
anitch :— " then what role, after this, must sound 
jnse play? " 

None of us found any answer, and, as before, 
e remained perplexed. 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 






JAN 51 '99t 




#\A ^ 








3 9015 00864 0982 





,♦ . />•;